Some insights from Veronica into Tris’ character and a mistake she wishes she could take back from the first book.
This month is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. And in the past year, I’ve seen a lot of blog posts from very smart people about a new and problematic trend in YA: the “throwaway” sexual assault trope. This trope is included to artificially raise the stakes in a plot or situation, or to further establish how bad a villain is, but it doesn’t actually affect the character all that much moving forward. It is problematic to include a sensitive issue in your work as a plot device only, without making it important for the character. Not just on a moral level, but on a storymaking level, too.
“People with disabilities can be interesting, strong, and capable without being supernaturally gifted - we aren’t all Daredevil. But for some reason disabled characters are often gifted in some way, elevating them above their abled peers. I know this isn’t how it’s intended, but this portrayal is somewhat insulting to the average disabled person, because it implies that we - meer humans with disabilities - are not good enough to be characters unless we have a supernatural ability.”—Kody Keplinger on diversity and disability in literature.
“I’m trying to figure out how insulated one has to be from the wider world to be shocked! shocked! that racism is pervasive in American culture, and among American teens. Those wide-eyed tweets about Rue’s death being less sad because she’s black clearly come straight from the brains of adolescents (nearly all of them white, presumably) who have bathed in subtly and overtly racist culture since birth, absorbed far too much of it, and not yet learned to second-guess or even censor themselves when they parrot its tenets. They’re surprising only if you haven’t noticed that when real people of color are killed, there’s always an immediate attempt to justify or downplay the deaths. Art imitates life; reactions to art likewise imitate life.”—An article at Publisher’s Weekly on fans’ racist reactions to learning that Rue is black. The article also gives a shout-out to Racebending.com (via racebending)
Yesterday on twitter, I expressed annoyance with the hundreds of people who send me emails or tumblr messages or whatever to let me know that they illegally downloaded one of my books, as if they expect me to reply with my hearty congratulations that they are technologically sophisticated enough…
“Generally, there seems to exist significant pressure for writers to create characters that are wish fulfillment for teenage girls, not only in their situations (they go to magic school, or fall in love with magical boys), but their behavior, too. In YA, it often feels like teenage girls are better than our real, thorny, weird and sometimes unlikable selves. They let us forget the mistakes we’ve made—the awful boys we’ve fallen for, the times we’ve hurt our friends or been irresponsible or petty.”—Celebrating the Complicated Girl, by author Phoebe North
“Don’t quit. It’s very easy to quit during the first 10 years. Nobody cares whether you write or not, and it’s very hard to write when nobody cares one way or the other. You can’t get fired if you don’t write, and most of the time you don’t get rewarded if you do. But don’t quit.”—Andre Dubus (via ilovereadingandwriting)