22 December 2018

Why I could never be a Modern Fiction Novel Heroine
(back to humour for Bad Girl. Tis the season for frivolity, after all)



by Melodie Campbell

Let’s call her Tiffany.  Nah, too twee.  How about Jen.  Meet our fiction heroine, Jen.  She’s a modern girl. Has her own condo. Drives a car. Lives in the city. Has a meaningful job.  All in all, a typical    
modern heroine of a fiction novel.

Sounds reasonable, but I couldn’t be her.  I’m all for ‘suspension of disbelief’ in fantasy, but my world requires more human elements.  To wit:

THINGS THAT BUG ME ABOUT MODERN FICTIONAL HEROINES

1.  They look great all the time.
By this I mean: she gets up in the morning, perfect coiffed.  (Not quaffed. Except maybe in my loopy Goddaughter books.)  She dons clothes for her work day.  Maybe goes for a jog.  And spends absolutely no time in front of the mirror swabbing on makeup or doing her hair.  Did you ever notice fiction novel heroines look great in the morning without doing anything?  They may have a shit-load of angst about their personal lives, but apparently, they have Barbie doll hair.

As of immediately, name of heroine is changed to Barbie.

2.  They never eat.
Oh, they got out to dinner a lot.  You may even hear them order food.  But when it comes, do they ever eat it?  No! Barbie is far too busy arguing with her dinner companion, and then getting upset.

So many books, so many meals where our intrepid plucky heroine says, “oh my, I’m so upset, I couldn’t eat a thing.”

What is it with these feeble women who can’t eat?  Who the hell are they?  What do they exist on? 
When I’m upset, I eat, dammit.  Gotta fuel up for the famine that’s going to come sometime in the next 400 years.

If I hear another TSTL (too stupid to live) heroine say she’s too upset to eat, I’m going to shove the virtual dinner in her vapid virtual face and watch her choke to death.  Oh.  But then someone would have to rescue her.

EAT THE DAMN MEAL.

3.  They never go to the bathroom.
Twenty-four hours a day, we’re with this dame.  Does she ever go to the loo?  I mean, for other than a quick swipe of lipstick and a gabfest with friends?

Do none of these women have periods?
Do they not have to offload some by-products?  EVER?

Oh right.  Barbie is always too upset to eat a thing.  Therefore, nothing to offload. What was I thinking?


4.  They run into the haunted house.

“Oh, a haunted house!” says our plucky heroine. (Note use of the word ‘plucky’ to demonstrate she’s not a chicken <sic>)  “I’ll just pop in there and see what the fuss is all about, shall I?”
WHOMP
(Plucky heroines taste good with ketchup, in my parodies.)

Listen up, modern day heroines! Do NOT be so stupid as to walk into an abandoned place where you know someone was murdered, or even stupider, confront the murderer, all by your little selves! 

Let it be known: when I am pretty sure I know who the killer is, I do NOT confront him all on my own in an isolated location.  Instead, I pretty much run like hell in the opposite direction.  ‘Cause experience has taught me (apparently, I do this a lot) that if someone has killed once, they won’t hesitate to bop my bean.  Even Barbie with half a brain can figure out it ain’t a smart move. 

Modern day heroines, rise up! Rebel against these tired tropes!  Fight back against the lazy mucks who make you appear as dumb as dough.

GO ON STRIKE AGAINST YOUR AUTHORS!  Or alternatively, strike your authors.
I’ll leave now.

Author disclosure:  Just so you know, Gina Gallo of The Goddaughter series loves her food.  You’ll see her eat it.  She sneaks off to the bathroom (offstage, so don’t freak.)  She looks like shit in the morning. Just like me.  Even Rowena of my fantasy books goes to the outhouse and enjoys her meals.  (Not at the same time.)

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

18 comments:

Paul D. Marks said...

Happy Holidays to you, too, Melodie! And your piece had me laughing out loud, or should I say LOL?

Melodie Campbell said...

Thanks Paul! For the wishes and the laughter :)

Steve Liskow said...

Yeah!

Thank you for writing this. There are a couple of series (I won't name them because both authors sell more books on a bad day than I've sold in my life) where the ditzy-heroine schtick has worn so thin you could actually read the darn books through it.

By coincidence, yesterday I was working on a scene where a female character has just crawled out of bed and her hair looks like she styled it with a food processor (so much for well-coiffed) and her morning breath would stop a charging rhino. It was even more fun than not watching her eat.

Two days ago, my female protagonist was at a restaurant and we got to see her drink wine and order dinner. Unfortunately, someone got killed later in the scene before dinner came.

I'm with you. There's suspension of disbelief, and then there's downright delusional. That's for the fantasy and sci-fi crowd, and even THEY have to follow rules.

Caro Soles said...

I hear you! I also get cross because they live in that great condo but the job, say an entey level job in some great law firm, Connot possibly pay enough to support rhat damn condo! Of course I live in Toronto so I and my characters, worry about such things.


Caro

Melodie Campbell said...

Steve, I'm smiling. "styled it with a food processor" - I've used 'garden tools' before, but I like yours better. Love your whole comment!

Melodie Campbell said...

Ah, Caro, the whole Friends mess-up. And being a commerce grad, this kind of money impossibility spoils the whole book for me. I'm the same with small village stores in cozies that couldn't possibly support themselves. Too many years reviewing business plans, alas.

Eve Fisher said...

"What is it with these feeble women who can’t eat? Who the hell are they? What do they exist on? When I’m upset, I eat, dammit. Gotta fuel up for the famine that’s going to come sometime in the next 400 years."
Oh, I am right there with you, Melodie - I eat, no matter what, and I dare anyone to stop me.

My private pet peeve is the one from every goddam horror movie ever made, where the perfect non-eating, non-excreting, dressed to the nines heroine gets up out of bed (perfectly coiffed, full make up, and I might add, a diaphanous nightgown from some upscale store that probably cost a week's rent) and goes, in the dark, to find what made that funny sound. Personally, I pile furniture and grab the baseball bat. You want in? Break in, and then I'll break your head!

Love the post!

Melodie Campbell said...

Thanks Eve! Baseball bat will reside firmly under my side of the bed from now on - grin. And darned if they ever call us feeble, you and me. Oh, and pass the brie cheese.

Leigh Lundin said...

Plucky… chicken… Them there authors shouldn't use those two words in the same sentence.

Funny, trait #1 reminded me of Nancy Drew who acquired cars, clothes, and expensive coiffure, all without working. #2-4 did nothing to dissuade me. Once firmly ensconced in #4 Elm Street, Nancy embraced the bondage bit, Scooby-Doo to the rescue. (I think I just mixed three authors in one sentence.)

An otherwise sensible and pretty wonderful girlfriend who taught Shakespeare as part of her day job, urged me to read a half dozen of her favorite authors, most in the TSTL category. She was right about one thing– I won't forget a couple of them, perhaps for a different reason.

The heroine in one fell for an assassin, sensitive, tender, and misunderstood. Misunderstood? He ƒ-ing KILLS people! What's hard to understand?

In another, a photographer heroine learns a bad, bad, murderer (as opposed to a good, good murderer) photobombed a series of her pictures, and is determined to do her in. Her older male mentor (OMM) warns her, tries to protect her and keep her alive. Girl is so stubborn, she practically dances naked in front of her picture window shouting, "Bugsy, here I am!" Overwhelmed by the task of keeping her ass intact, OMM hires MRI (male romantic interest) experienced in all things masculine (e.g, driving aircraft carriers, flying army tanks, riding rhinos). He hides the highly-resistant, stubborn heroine on his ranch. She makes secret phone calls advertising her whereabouts. She knocks out an already drowsy MRI (exhausted keeping her alive) with a skillet or hairbrush or something, hot-wires his Jeep (!!!) with an eyebrow plucker, then almost immediately drives it into a ditch. The MRI, now TSTLS (too stoopid to love sensibly), becomes infatuated with her 'cute' antics, and… and… Oh God, I feel a migraine coming on.

Melodie, have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas!

An Unabashed Academic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
An Unabashed Academic said...

Ummm... not sure I want to mention this, but I am the Unabashed Academic, after all. So perhaps you might want to check out the meanings of "quaffed" vs "coiffed".

Leigh Lundin said...

Dear Unabashed, I must rise to defend the writer here. The poor lass is Canadian, forced to choose between British spellings and American, uh, spelling, such as it is. (We can't figure out how to count the number of 'L's in any given word.) I'm afraid she borrowed 'quaffed' from isiXhosa, the 5th person dative form of quarffff. That's my hypothesis, anyway.

Have a great holiday, UA!

Joan O'Callaghan said...

OK. I confess to the great condo - except that when the building was constructed, they used a type of plumbing that was industry standard at the time but has since been found to be defective. So now all the plumbing in the building, including all the units, has to be replaced. And by condo law, owners are responsible for the cost! Does THAT ever happen to the plucky-Barbies? I think not.
I love my food - too much so! I do not look great in the morning - or any other time, actually. I think I am just human.....

Melodie Campbell said...

Unabashed, you have me laughing! And me, a college prof! Caught and convicted, dangit. I shall do penance with my Oxford Dictionary. Leigh, thanks for the heartfelt defense.

Melodie Campbell said...

Joan, those Barbies would MELT, I tell you! Absolutely melt, if they had to be heroines of the real world. You're a hero to me, for sure :)

Melodie Campbell said...

Leigh, so glad you caught the plucky and chicken. I throw out a lot of these (maybe I should throw them farther) and rare is the clever lad who gets them all. Really really think you should write a lot of your comments into short stories. Too blooming creative.

Arlene said...

I am so glad you are armed with a well honed BS detector and the ability to ridicule the soggy cardboard dolls that inhabit so many mysteries. Heroines who fumble, fart and flirt are way more fun.Thanks for the laughter!

Melodie Campbell said...

Arlene, thank you! Your 'soggy cardboard dolls' expression is the best I've seen, and will be making its way into my Crafting a Novel class at Sheridan College (with attribution, of course!)