Monday, December 13, 2010

Overused in YA Literature

By Julie Daines

YA Author Joelle Anthony read hundreds of young adult and middle grade novels to create a list of the fifteen most overused things in YA fiction. 

She says she wanted to encourage YA writers to “stretch beyond the first things that they think of when writing.  The idea behind the list was to point out areas where authors seem to think they are being unique, but actually aren’t.”

Here is her list:  A Countdown of 15 of the Most Overused Things in YA Fiction

15.  Stories of irresponsible parents with main characters who end up paying bills, cooking, cleaning, etc.

14.  Characters who like retro music – generally of the era that the author was in high school.

13.  Really hot, young-looking moms – often portrayed as main character’s best friends.

12.  Female characters who are obsessed with Jane Austen in general, and Elizabeth Bennet in particular.

11.  Lab partners where one person does all the work – often the geek who ends up being the love interest.

10.  A main character with only one friend.  The plot almost always includes the compulsory argument scene, leaving her to eat lunch alone for weeks – usually in the library.

9.  A poor girl who is a scholarship student in a fancy private school.

8.  Books told in first person and the description of the main character is given by having her examine herself in the mirror.

7.  Tomboys who can’t sew or cook and hate dresses (most common in historical and middle-grade novels).

6.  Gorgeous, popular younger sisters (this role used to be reserved for older sisters).

5.  Authors who work vocabulary words into the dialogue and then pass them off as knowledge the characters have because the words are on the SAT list.

4.  Main characters who are the only ones in the world without a cell phone.

3.  Clumsy characters who can’t dance or play sports to save their lives.

2.  Guys with gorgeous/stunning/flashing/jewel-like/piercing green eyes.  Green is the new blue.

1.  Main characters who hate math.

From SCBWI Bulletin, Nov/Dec 2010


Anonymous said...

The only one of these that was super shocking to me was 4 - characters with no cell phones, who knew. I guess I need to read more YA. Or, YA, that's not historical (actually took place in an era when cell phones had been invented). Are authors really still describing characters in front of mirrors? I thought editors had put an official ban on that :)

Scott said...

I haven't done any of these. Ok, I make comments now and then about math but it's never been important to the plot or character development.

Taffy said...

Great list, Julie! Good thing the hot guy in my book has red eyes. I'm actually thinking of changing that color to orange...

Julie Daines said...

Scott, that's because 99.9% of the world's population hates math. So, to say that a character hates math is just being realistic--not cliche. :)

Cheryl said...

Number 15 drives me insane. It's like reading episodes of the Nick show Fairly Oddparents.