Monday, January 10, 2011

Overused Themes in YA, PART I

So, I read this article by Joelle Anthony, called Red Hair Is Not As Uncommon As You Think.

She listed tired themes in YA fiction, and it really got me thinking.

I'm revealing her list in a series of fives over the next few days.

And then, we'll discuss.


1. Lab partners -where one person does all the work--often the geek who ends up being the love interest. I've read lots of lab partners in YA, sure, usually used as a device to get the two to hook up. The one that comes to mind first is PERFECT CHEMISTRY. But Alex was no geek *swoon*.


Bella: "Anaphase." Edward: "I VANT to DRRRINK your BLOOD. It's like my own special brand of heroine, baby." :D

2. A poor girl who is a scholarship student in a fancy private school. Or some variation of this, like in ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS--but done really well (love that book).


3. Main characters who are the only ones in the world without a cell phone. Hmm, I can only think of books where the cell phone lost reception, or went dead conveniently (as a plot device). My characters carry cell phones, do yours?


4. Guys with gorgeous/stunning/flashing/jewel-like/piercing GREEN EYES (green is the new blue). I am guilty of this. One of my protagonists, Hayden, has those kind of eyes. But he was manufactured from a potion--not human, doesn't that count? :D
5. Clumsy characters who can't dance or play sports to save their lives. One protag comes to mind immediately:Bella, from Twilight. And she's had her day in the sun. So, let's hear it for more powerful and graceful characters--there are a ton out there!

Thoughts? Everything is a recycled idea, anyway. The point is to mix it up, make it your own, and have it seem more unique, no?

27 comments:

Pk Hrezo said...

Um, yep ... I'm guilty of the no cell phone thing with one of my stories. *sheepish grin*
But my most recent story has everyone using cells.
I can see how some of this stuff would be overdone.

salarsenッ said...

Thanks for sharing these. Makes you think, huh?? I do believe, though, that these elements can still be used but twists need to be added. Things need to be spiced up! ";-)

Cheree said...

Well, I have an excuse for the no cell phone thing... but, I really can't stand the heroines that are overly clumsy.

Little Ms J said...

Interesting.... I don't really care for Bella as a character because she's so weak. And the cell phone thing is dated, although the losing reception is believable. I always seem to drop it when I have a vampire chasing me down the freeway.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Someone else blogged about some of these this morning.

LOL. I'm guilty of # 3 with the dead battery. Other than that, I'm good. The lab partner in my new wip isn't a geek (he's hot) and both him and the mc participate equally. Hmmm. Come to think of it, there are a few similarities between my wip and PC (fortunately only a few though). Grrr.

Ellie said...

Although I don't write YA fiction, there are lessons in this post for all authors - don't use the same old cliches and plot ideas, and read widely in your chosen genre to discover what they are.

Great post!

Maddy said...

Funny! I think that's why I'm tend to read the YA genre in small doses. It soon starts to feel like you're reading the same story over and over again. When I was a kid, I was a big fan of the VC Andrews book, but they were all practically the same. Dark family secrets, incest, stumbling upon wealth family lineage.. you get my drift!

Amparo Ortiz said...

*chuckles* My current WIP doesn't have any of those things, but I agree that they've been done to death. And SO WHAT if green is the new blue? Me loves it :D

mel said...

this posts reminds me of something i saw lately about 'feminist movies'... there is a test, with 3 questions, as you think about the films that are written. answer yes to all 3 and the film passes.
1. is there more than one female in the film?
2. do these 2 women speak to each other?
3. do they talk about anything other than men?

i'm not a writer, but i do find myself getting incredibly annoyed by the one dimensional female characters that are soooo popular.
Bella especially is a just a whiny, self-destructive, male-dependant brat. what a role model for young girls....

Melissa Gill said...

There are only so many eye colors and hair colors available, the trick is to make the limited choices sound unique and appealing.

Lab partners are a great pairing off ground because they get to talk in class, and are forced to work together, but it is truly overdone.

I don't know, it's tough to come up with something that's not a rehash, but it's the only way. I haven't read Anna and the French Kiss, but from the buzz, it sounds like to voice is really fresh, even if some of the plot is a re-do.

Pamela said...

This just gave me the nudge to reread the Twilight series. *Sigh*

I can see where this would be a problem though, lab partners. Too cliche now-a-days...

Also? I have green eyes!

Lourie said...

You know it used to be the pretty people were the best and the funny looking ones or clumsy ones were the lesser characters. Then it started to change with stories like Can't Buy Me Love where Patrick Dempsey pre McDreamy plays the hapless geek who "rents" the head cheerleader for a month to prove he could be popular just by association. And I think it just blossomed from there. ANd that was 20+ years ago. I like the formula because we are all awkward in one form or another. But it could use some tweaking and rehashing. HOw's that for tired? haha.

Meredith said...

I've got a boy with green eyes in my WiP, so I'm definitely guilty of that. What can I say, eyes are the first thing I notice about someone, and I love green!

Matthew Rush said...

I was obsessing over this the other day and spent a LOT of time reading this:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Twilight

and this:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/InheritanceCycle

Really interesting stuff! Looking forward to reading more of your examples.

Lindsay (a.k.a Isabella) said...

I'm guilty of the eyes. I'm a sucker for eyes. lol.

K. M. Walton said...

Whew. None of those appear in any of my books.

SharleneT said...

In my day, it was the clear blue eyes and crooked grin -- only the good guys had crooked grins... and, of course, you could get lost in their arms...

Oh, if you're following me, don't forget to change your link to my new dedicated domain http://mainstreamsolarcooking.com

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

This is fun to read about. My daughter is 16 and we constantly laugh at the recurring themes. But if it's well written she still enjoys reading it.

Devin Bond said...

I'm a total offender of the green eyes thing. BUT! In my WIP it's a little necessary.

And, what can I say, green is awesome! Go green eyes! (Though other types are delicious, too.)

blueviolet said...

I have to admit that I don't mind if it's been done before as long as it's done again well.

J.C. Martin said...

I haven't written any YA yet so have not committed any of these, and the YA novel I am planning on planning does not have any of this! Hope that's good news?

P.S.: You have an award waiting for you at my site!

http://jc-martin.com/fighterwriter/awards/

Shannon said...

Great post - loved reading over the checklist.

So far I'm in the clear - I haven't done any of these. Anxious to see what's up next!

lostinbelieving said...

Yeah so agree with you on all of this! A lot of things tend to be repeating, but I guess truth is that it happens in life. My friend actually doesn't have a phone because her parents won't give one to her.

Another thing is the lab partners. In my class we always do things in groups. I wish I had a cute guy to work with xD

~Alison

Patricia Lynne said...

I'm guilty of having a geeky character hook up w/ a hot chick. I haven't written it yet because I know it's a cliche, but the idea is floating in my head and I may write it down just for fun and to work on improving my writing.

Adam B said...

The lab partner conundrum is not one that springs up in Australian YA since it's not a part of school life here.
I was running these through my head as I went over my YA web serial and thankfully couldn't find them, except the green eyes. However they are a minor thing of my antagonist.
I have used technology (phones, facebook etc) in a way that is more realistic to teenage life.
Look forward to reading the next part of this series.
Thanks
Adam B @revhappiness

Emy Shin said...

I definitely agree with all of these! I have to admit I really do like #2, still -- maybe I should check out ANNA & THE FRENCH KISS. :)

Melissa said...

Sweet! I almost avoid all of these!

No girl on scholarship, no lab partners, no clumsy heroine.

I don't think the cell phone one applies to me because none of my characters have cell phones (fantasy world)...

MY MC has sea green eyes... but she's a girl. None of the guys in my book have green eyes! Though her love interest has blue (Blue isn't dead yet!)