This is why READING is SO important for writers. It’s called research. Every innovative market does this. Fashion designers see what’s in and out of style; reinvent pieces from the past to make it Retro. Ad agencies research the trends in a specific market then promote accordingly. The same applies for writing. By doing this “Research” you can see what’s been overdone and what can be resurrected from the ashes as far as premise.
But most importantly you can see what’s been worked to death within the writing itself…
Since my genre is Paranormal YA, I’ll go with that. My research inspired me to use mythical creatures that not many people know about or have yet been addressed in YA fiction. As far as plot, I’ve noticed that the same formula appears in over a dozen YA books. The list goes as followed:
• The story opens with a hyco/emo poem/ bible passage/ journal entry/ famous quote
• The obscure prologue that tries to Tarantino its way back into the story somehow
• The handsome mystery guy that singles out the most boring character as his love interest
• The awkward classroom courtship
• The near death rescue by male lead
• The annoying best friend/sidekick who is only in the story to provide comic relief and make the main character smarter and more attractive by comparison.
• The beautiful/ popular girl in school who is mean to everyone
• The constant dreary weather
• The convenient absentee parents/ guardians
• The over-description on one person above the rest of the cast
• Telling that someone is attractive instead of allowing the reader to come to that conclusion for themselves
• The abuse of adjectives and over-analysis of trivial shit
• The lame references to mystery guy’s secret identity despite that knowledge being revealed on the book sleeve or book cover
• The inexplicable need to use stalking as a sign of affection
• The inability to carry on a polite conversation or answer a simple question without a raised eyebrow and pointless intrigue
• The one-stop Google search that answers everything
• The marathon of stupid decisions that places the main character in danger
• The declaration of undying love that falls out of the sky
• The one-dimensional super villain who devises a drawn-out, grandiose means of destruction where a quick murder would suffice
I know, I know. I’ve pretty much summed up the entire YA section of the bookstore. These are just some things I have noticed reoccurring in these stories, and I make it a point to avoid them. And reading and seeing what those clichés are will minimize the risk of using them. I’m not saying any of the above items are evil by themselves, but COLLECTIVELY they become trite and eye-rolling obnoxious. Not ALL cliché’s are bad, but just like any other crutch, it becomes a hindrance and can debilitate if abused.
Everything is good in moderation. Write responsibly.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
YA Cliches: Duck and Dodge
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