Yesterday, out of the blue, Dash asked me if a certain friend of his was a surprise. I don’t actually keep a file on the conception details of all his friends, but I did happen to know that this particular kid was in fact, a surprise. I told him so and he asked, “So, like, his mom was just sitting around one day, and surprise, a baby came out?” And I said, “Yep, that’s what happened!” and that was the end of that conversation.
Ok, so actually that did lead to a more detailed talk with my six year old. SO FUN. But I had to make sure he had his facts right, or else he might one day write a novel featuring my number one literary pet peeve: the surprise unplanned pregnancy with no explanation! I’m not going to single anything out, because this happens in roughly 52 million books I can think of. I get it, an unplanned pregnancy is a very useful plot device, no argument here. But please, just throw in a line or two laying out how this happened. Contraceptive failure? Thought it was a “safe” time? Just being really super careless? No judgment, I just want it covered so nobody’s acting like the stork just flew by when nobody was looking. This isn’t confined to books, as it also really bugs me in the otherwise perfect singles.
Second on my list of offenses is “I know this person so well that I can easily guess her password.” Now, I know that sometimes your characters need to access information that’s hidden to them, but come on. Even if he knows that nothing has ever mattered more to his estranged wife than her childhood horse, her password just isn’t going to be “ariel” instead of “ar1eL6829*” or something. And if your password really is all one word lowercase but you’re not a coffee shop’s wifi, please go change it right now.
Ending on a positive note, I recently had to do a flip flop on this last one. It always bothered me when a fully grown adult character was still pining away for a lost high school sweetheart. I see this kind of thing a lot in contemporary fiction, (spoiler: they find each other on Facebook!) and I always felt it showed a limited capacity to love. I mean, ~20 years since high school and you haven’t found anyone else who measures up? But then, wouldn’t you know, the most loving person I’ve ever known went and lived out this exact trope, so I had to change my tune. Well played, Laura.