Monday, February 4, 2008

Young Adult Fiction - 25 modern cliches?

Kristin the literary agent has a list of what keeps turning up in modern young adult fiction.

A countdown of 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  • #24 – Shy or withdrawn characters that take refuge in the school’s art room/ compassionate art teachers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. Original can be found here.

Agree? Disagree? Can you add to this?


Therin of Andor said...

Love the list! It will come in handy! Things to avoid like the plague when writing?

Anonymous said...

Crap! I based my fictional red-headed best friend on my actual red-headed friend. I never even bothered to check on it being a cliche first. Although, I guess after Harry Potter it should have occurred to me. :\

Rachel said...

I, too, am curious as to where the "red-headed best friend" trope came from. I also have a red-headed best friend, which may mean it's a theme that shows up frequently in literature, but why is it a cliche specific to young adult literature?

Therin of Andor said...

Rachel, have you tried the "TV Tropes" website:

Why heroes want redheaded friends!

Mariana Deluna said...

#24 – Shy or withdrawn characters that take refuge in the school’s art room/ compassionate art teachers... or music room, or library... i could on! Thanks for posting this, really is helpful and very true! As well as funny!