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.

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  • #24 – Shy or withdrawn characters that take refuge in the school’s art room/ compassionate art teachers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

5 comments:

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!