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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

YA clichés

Since the young adult fiction market began to boom, certain conventions have woven their way into the fabric of YA literature, for better or for worse. Some of these elements are not unique to YA, just perhaps exploited or overused since the break-out success of franchises like Twilight and The Hunger Games. But now, readers might grumble or groan when they hear that a new book incorporates a love triangle or any other once-effective but now-trite plot device. This can make it difficult for a YA author to navigate the already treacherous terrain of plotting a first draft, because now she must also avoid these deadly pitfalls, even when they might seem integral or organic to the plot. It’s almost impossible to avoid them all, particularly if you are basing your story on an archetype like the hero’s journey. I suppose the trick is to avoid making one of these devices feel clichéd by investing it with a new twist or by writing so artfully that your audience never even realizes that you’re using a common trope.

Here are some of the more egregious offenses I’ve heard people rail against lately:
1.     the love triangle
2.     an impossibly beautiful paranormal love interest
3.     absentee parents
4.     the wise-cracking best friend
5.     the blonde mean girl
6. the love interest who initially acts like a jerk

Gah! (Guilty on some counts, here…) YA author Joelle Anthony has a much more comprehensive list that’s actually quite funny. But I’m curious, which YA clichés irritate you the most? Are there any that are so overused you won’t even pick up a book that incorporates them? For fun, take the quiz at the top right corner of my blog or comment below. Which YA cliché must go?


Katherine Longshore said...

Late to the party here, Eve, but no! Not the love triangle! I'm totally guilty of that one. Though my mean girl isn't blonde. Phew.

I suppose the thing about cliches is that people expect them to play out a certain way, but if we can find a way for them not to, perhaps we'll manage to escape being tarred with the cliche brush?

Eve Marie Mont said...

Katy, I'm guilty of several, and I didn't really know it until I read the list. Just goes to show how ingrained some of these have become. Love triangle or not, I can't wait to read GIRL IN A DIAMOND COLLAR. Are you still loving that title, bc/ I am!