What a great article! (It's been in my favourites for awhile, I just hadn't had the time to read it yet.) It's so funny: the entire time I was reading this, I kept thinking about Eleanor & Park. Rainbow Rowell really did do it so well. She's one of my favourite authors, one of the reasons being the way she portrayed Eleanor in her novel. It was so well done.
I absolutely agree with everything you said here. I'm always running into this trope and rolling my eyes at it; apparently, these authors have never been to high school. Or they're trying to relive their miserable high school years in a way that will glorify them/their character. I think that's the way many people write: they write what they wish they had done, how they wish things could have been. I do it all the time, too. It's not a bad thing, it's just that we have to be careful not to fall into cliches or make it completely unrealistic.
I really liked your two descriptions of Sara. Perfectly executed. All in all, wonderful article!
That's a very good article. I can tell that it helped me understand something that I, as a newbie writer, can't yet describe. Thank you for that.
What do you thing about using non-neutral description of a character depending on the point of you? In a novel I'm planning currently, there are independent points of view depending on whether a certain character (a guy; his best friend, a girl; and another girl, new to their school and city): if the guy is there, then I describe everything from his PoV; if he's not and the friend is there, I use hers; and if only the new girl is there, I write from her PoV. Their PoVs are, of course, different (the guy and the friend are like brother and sister, they grew up together from their 3 years of age, so they are bound to share some tastes), so their description of other charaters should be different.
I read all of it and I can see why this is top searched work of literature in DeviantArt. At first I thought it was going to be about unattractive "male" protagonists, but I was so wrong. I do agree that the "love at first sight" cliche is kind of over-used and romance stories seem unrealistic sometimes.