Our Secret Desire to be the Characters we Hate

If you read YA (and really, why wouldn't you) you know that lots of folks are concerned about the lack of strong female characters in many of the chart-toppers. They point to characters like Bella Swan from Twilight and Luce from Fallen. These ladies lack any identity outside the men in the lives.

Readers, librarians, and fellow authors are concerned about the messages this type of character is sending to the impressionable teens who read about them. This is such a hot topic that it made me wonder why an author would create a character like this in the first place.

And then it hit me. Because secretly, deep down inside, we all want to be like Bella Swan. Now, I'm not suggesting that we all want to suddenly develop self-esteem issues and sacrifice our personalities for the sake of true love. So let me explain.

Characters like Bella are all written the same. Beautiful girl doesn't realize how pretty she is and is clueless to the male student body ready to sacrifice appendages for a date to Homecoming. We assume that this character is either a) dumber than a box of rocks to not see all of this or b) has one of those so far over-the-top humility acts that it has to be fake.

But this is where the secret, deep down part comes in. Don't we all wish this was how things really were in high school. It sure would be nice to convince myself that the reason my sophomore year was dateless was simply because my overwhelming beauty made all the boys too nervous to ask me out.

I'm not suggesting this is a green light to write a dozen novels with sappy, unaware teenagers. But it does explain why seventeen year old girls and forty year old women stand in line at midnight to see their movies. Because, secretly, we all want to be Bella Swan.