Friday, April 04, 2008

25 Overdone things

For all you writers out there. Here is a list put together by Joelle Anthony. 25 things that show up repeatedly in young adult fiction:

#25 – Vegetarian teens with unsympathetic meat-eating parents

#24 – Shy or withdrawn characters that take refuge in the school’s art room/ compassionate art teachers

#23 – A token black friend among a group of white friends - usually it’s a girl, and she’s always gorgeous

#22 – A tiny scar through the eyebrow, sometimes accompanied by an embarrassing story

# 21 – Using the word ‘rents for parents, but not using any other slang

# 20 – A beautiful best friend who gets all the guys but doesn’t want them

#19 – The wicked stepmother who turns out to be simply misunderstood and it’s all cleared up in the climax

#18 – Authors showing their age by naming characters names they grew up with (i.e. Debbie, Lisa, Kimberly, Alice, Linda, etc.)

#17 – Parents who are professional writers or book illustrators

#16 – Using coffee, cappuccino, and café latte to describe black people’s skin

#15 – Main characters named Hannah and making a note of it being a palindrome

#14 – Younger siblings who are geniuses, adored by everyone, and usually run away during the book’s climax, causing dramatic tension

#13 – The mean-spirited cheerleader (and her gang) as the story’s antagonist

# 12 – A dead mother

# 11 – Heroines who can’t carry a tune, even if it were in a bucket

# 10 – Guys with extraordinarily long eyelashes

# 9 – The popular boy dating the dorky heroine to make his former girlfriend jealous, and then breaking the heroine’s heart

# 8 – The diary, either as the entire format, or the occasional entry

# 7 – Fingernail biting

# 6 – Characters who chew on their lip or tongue in times of stress – usually until they taste blood

# 5 – Raising one eyebrow

# 4 – Main characters who want to be writers

# 3 – Calling parents by their first names

# 2 – Best friends with red hair*

And the number one thing found in YA novels…
#1 – Lists

© Joëlle Anthony, 2007
Originally published in the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Bulletin, July/Aug. 2007


Beth Fehlbaum, Author said...

Wow, I sure am glad that my novel has none of those overdone things.
I hope you'll check out Chapter One, which is online.
Beth Fehlbaum, author
Courage in Patience, a story of hope for those who have endured abuse

joelle said...

Hey, thanks for posting this! If you don't mind, I just wanted to add that the entire article can be seen on my website. Sometimes when people just read the list, and not the article, they get upset with me - thinking I'm telling them they did something wrong or something. The article explains that I've just seen these things over and over and that really I'm just trying to make people aware of them so that if they choose to use these things they know that maybe they're not quite as unique as they hoped. The link is at the top of my homepage. And if you scroll down a bit, there's a bit of fun I had with this article on April 1st too.

Thanks again!
Joelle Anthony

Anonymous said...

I read the article in the Bulletin but it was interesting to read it again. Thanks for that LIST!