Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Been There, Read That (or Tired and True Tropes)

Tip of the Day, Librarian Edition: February is Love Your Library Month! Ask your local librarians what you can do for them!

All of us writers trying to sell books know that it is a tough, competitive market for YA. What can we do to stand out in the slush piles? One idea I plan to implement is to work harder on coming up with unique angles to introduce characters and plot points. No more taking the easy, tried and true way!

Based on the over 100 YA novels I read in the past year, scenarios I will be avoiding are:

--a new boy at school who immediately connects with the MC and is a huge part of her destiny, paranormal or realistic. (New setting besides the school intro, please.)
--the MC starts at a new school and immediately connects with a guy there who is a huge part of her destiny, paranormal or realistc. (Twilight.)
--the MC has a dead brother/sister/boyfriend/girlfriend and connects with the deceased's living brother/sister/boyfriend/girlfriend in order to heal from the loss. (This has been done beautifully in the recent past, and I'm ready for another fresh way for the MC to heal.)
--strictly defined cliques, including the obviously popular/beautiful girls who are cruel to the MC. (If I never see this again, I will be all too grateful. Why can't the ugly girls be the cruel ones?)

In a first draft, these elements are fine. But as you revise, brainstorm new ways of showing the relationships between characters. Dig deeper. Writing is hard anyway, so work a little harder and make it all worth it.

Deena, Miss Subbing for Pubbing


Kate Fall said...

Thank you for mentioning the cliques. Sure, cliques are real, but they tend to be based on a lot more than looks. Especially when every young teen struggles to look exactly the same! What about religion, grades, neighborhoods, sports, music, parents who know each other? The vague "super mean but popular anyway for no reason" thing could use more meat behind it.

DeenaML said...

That is one of my HUGE pet peeves right now. Yup, always based on clothes or cheerleading.