Fun Grad School Story Time:
My friend John is a really good writer, and he often writes with protagonists of various genders. I remember once when someone complimented him for being good at writing from a woman’s POV in a story of his we were workshopping, and his response was “the trick is to write them like people.”
I also remember being told by a professor that I wrote very convincingly from a male POV too, so it does go the other way sometimes.
Anyway, yeah. One of the Big Rules we had in grad school was that you shouldn’t try to make your stories too general to stay relatable, because then they just become boring. Be as weird and specific as you want, and your reader will usually find something to latch onto.
Ironically, I think this is part of the reason that Alex in YIIK doesn’t work. If he had more personality and uniqueness, I think he’d be more tolerable. Kind of like how it worked for Scott Pilgrim, where he’s a fucking selfish loser, but there’s a kind of charm to him that causes you to recognize him in yourself. Same with Mae in Night in the Woods, where her life and home situation is very much tied to a place and time in history, but it still resonates with you even if your life looks very different and you’d make different choices. Alex, meanwhile, is just such an amorphous blob of dumb, self-centered privilege with nothing different or charming about him that it’s a slog to watch and tough to root for him even as he gets marginally less terrible.