One of my pet peeves as a reader is the way labor and childbirth are depicted in fiction (anybody willing to guess why I’ve been thinking about that lately? *grin*). On one hand, you have the spectacular Hollywood labor, beginning with the woman’s water breaking dramatically in an upscale store, followed by a mad dash to the hospital, lots of screaming and cussing of the unfortunate spouse or partner, until baby makes its appearance. On the other, there’s the Fantasy Prologue birth in which an exhausted white-faced woman has just given birth to the Prophesied Child, whereupon she will quit life, leaving the midwife and the old sorcerer to figure out what to do with the kid. (And these women always labor in bed–something I have never been able to do. Hello, stand up and walk around, let gravity give you and the baby a helping hand!)
Neither of these two scenarios does justice to the range of emotions and experiences of labor and birth. That is a shame, because emotions can and do run high, there is pain and euphoria, laughter and intensity, tragedy and comedy and even mundaneness (picture me dressed in hospital gown and bedsocks, reading a book while in “labor”). Relationships are tested and connections forged in the shared experience. And then there are all those emotions when a mom holds her baby for the first time. There is so much story potential in this universal human experience, but it has been left largely unexplored in the lives of fantasy female protagonists.
But then, you don’t see too many fantasy female protagonists with children (children happen later once the character is retired from their leading role–apparently moms are not allowed to have any adventures) which is a rant for another time.
Now, your turn. What are your reader pet peeves?