- a main character who isn’t interested in romance/doesn’t pursue a romance/doesn’t end up in a romantic relationship
- characters who are overweight but are not characterized simply as ‘the fat one’
- same as the above but for LGBT characters
- and again for all ethnic characters
These are all excellent points. I’d also like to see more emphasis (which is something I do in my own work) on love, but not first love. I think we oversell first love and for a lot of teens, it traps them into believing that their first love is the only one that matters and keeps them from breaking out of unhappy (even unhealthy) relationships on the basis that they’re never going to get another chance. It promotes a lack of self-worth and makes us feel like a relationship failing is our fault, but this is the only one we’re ever going to get, so we better fix it.
I’d like to see more teen romances focus less on the first “epic” love and allow the characters to fall in and out of love over the course of the story. Two characters shacking up doesn’t have to be the happily ever after, it’s okay to date other people.
This is important because when we’re teens, we’re still figuring out who we are. We haven’t finished growing yet and failure (more importantly learning to understand that failure is not necessarily a negative reflection on ourselves) is an important part of adulthood. People change and when we’re teens, we change rapidly. This can lead to two characters who did, desperately, love each other growing apart or becoming interested in other people. It happens and it’s no one’s fault.
More importantly, relationships always involve two people. Because so many stories revolve around a female character wanting or searching for a guy, all the responsibility in the story for success or failure of the relationship is placed on her shoulders. This is bad, because it means she is forced to bear the weight of someone else’s behavior. Behavior that she (sometimes he) has no control over.
You are not responsible for the behavior of someone else, especially when their behavior hurts you. There’s no shame in calling it quits and someone who hurts you, whether that pain is physical or emotional, is not “perfect”.
It takes a lot of courage to end a relationship that’s not working, it is hard to admit that no matter what we do it can’t be fixed, to walk away. It takes courage to admit to yourself that you’ve failed, to face disappointment, to give up and try something new. To be alone.
I’d like to see more stories about that.
Also, complex characters of all shapes, sizes, stripes, and ethnicities who kick butt and take names. And yes, I agree, better villains. You can’t have a good hero without a good villain (even if the real antagonist is themselves).