Young Adult Book Reading Challenges discussion

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Member's Chat > Help - Avoiding YA Cliches

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message 1: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee Hey All

I'm currently writing my first novel - it's a UF/PNR. Below is a blurb i came up with to give you an idea (it is actually narrated in first person though).

Basically, I'd like to get some feedback on cliched phrasing to avoid - I read a lot but I have to admit, when I'm reading I don't really pick up on this sort of thing unless it's really grating, or used repeatedly in the same novel (I know i really should, but I read for enjoyment, not with a notepad jotting down things that bug me lol)

I know one of the big ones is 'I let out a breath I didn't know I was holding' - will definitely be avoiding that.

I also noticed in Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes, every time someone kissed it was 'He crushed his mouth against hers' - does that wording bother anyone or is it just the repeated use of it in the one book that makes it sound cliched?

Another one i've come across is the word 'sinewy' to describe a guy's muscles...does anyone else find that gross? Also is the word 'lean' overused?

Things like that would be really helpful - basically any particular wording or phrases you find annoying. Any descriptive words that are just wrong. Anything that's overdone.

Also, I'm taking the approach of 'less is more' when it comes to describing characters. Throwing in a few hints here and there - as it's first person I think it's more realistic that my narrator would pick up on things about other people as the story moves along, particularly in regards to the main love interest, as there is no instant attraction AT ALL (although I'm hoping readers will fall in love straight away) - what do you think about that approach?

Thanks so much for your help!

here's the blurb:

After the death of her boyfriend almost a year ago, nineteen year-old Kira Manning has shut herself away with her grief, refusing to go to parties despite her friends’ and family’s insistence that she should move on. But just her luck, the one night she dares to venture out into the city she wakes up after passing out in an alley with the body of a murdered girl right next to her. What the Hell? Hardly anyone gets murdered anymore!

And things just keep getting weirder: Kira’s face is all over the news; none of her phone calls to her family are getting through; and a handsome – but surely crazy – stranger, all decked out in Victorian finery, shows up on her doorstep informing her that not only is she dead as a doornail but she’s been tapped to join The Order of Dark and Light, an elite squad of Reapers who (apparently) aren’t as bad as the Mortal stories make them out to be.

If Kira thought death was tough, it’s nothing compared to what’s waiting for her at The Order’s Academy, where putting one foot out of place could earn her a one-way ticket to The Underworld.


message 2: by Tessa (new)

Tessa | 22 comments There are a ton of YA cliches that I am pretty sick of, but I cannot remember most of them. The one that really gets on my nerves is the constant description of male's eyes. The girl character will "look deep into his eyes" or something like that. Other than that, you should avoid constantly repeating any phrase in your writing.
P.S. I love your blurb!


message 3: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee Thanks Helen, that's a good one. Actually now that you mention it pretty much every male love interest has incredibly long eyelashes. I'm amazed they can all see past them.

Cheers


message 4: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Michaels | 9 comments Your description is pretty awesome...I honesty would read that kind of book in a heartbeat. Something I find overused, which I'm so happy you mentioned is the instant love between the two characters...it's so unrealistic I hate when they meet and there kissing two pages later!

I also find very annoying when the main female character is all lovey dovey to the male character and has no backbone. Like the girl acts all stupid and tries to impress the male character and goes with whatever he says! I like when the girl characters are almost "badass" like their world doesn't revolve around them being with the guy but something more important but they guy sneaks his way in! She isn't interested in impressing him des just herself Idkk Oof that makes sense but I'm hoping you understand! Hope this helps and good luck!!!


message 5: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee Thanks Michelle! yep I hate those whiny, clingy girls too! I'm definitely going to go for an independent/thinks for herself type character, but I'll have to make sure I don't make her too perfect - no one likes a Mary Sue!

Thanks for the feedback!


message 6: by M. (new)

M. Dobson (meg_evonne) | 20 comments Yep Michelle. Well said!


message 7: by Lili (new)

Lili (ceclor97) Amazing. This is a book I'd totally read. Does it have a name yet?

Now things to avoid:

1. Insta-love

2. Love triangles

3. Douchey male love interest

4. Helpful and totally in love best friend [usually male] whose feelings are unknown until he comes out and admits them

5. The MC is a chosen one who will restore balance to the world

6. Bitchy cheerleader stereotypes -- cheerleaders are people too you know

7. people hating MC for nothing substantial other than 'ZOMG, she's so pretty I wish I was small and cute and freckly like her'

That's all I can think for now


message 8: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee Thanks Lili!

Omg I think no 4 is my most hated of all of these!! lol but no 5 is close behind! ....actually they are all pretty bad cliches! I will definitely be doing my best to avoid them!!

I don't have a title for the book yet but I think the series is going to be called either 'The Order of Dark and Light' or 'Immortal Assassins' but I will just wait until I'm further on with the writing (I'm about a quarter of the way through the first draft).


message 9: by M. (new)

M. Dobson (meg_evonne) | 20 comments Great comments! Main thing though? Just write it. Get your first draft done. Plenty of time to fix clichés in later edits.

Happy writing!


message 10: by Carol (new)

Carol Moreira (carolmoreira) | 18 comments Yes, I started writing YA in my forties and I've found editors and younger friends great at catching things. I am also a Brit working in Canada so I don't always use the right North American words. Early readers spot my mistakes though!


message 11: by M. (new)

M. Dobson (meg_evonne) | 20 comments Are you a Jim butcher fan Carol? You sound like someone on his furum.


message 12: by Carol (new)

Carol Moreira (carolmoreira) | 18 comments I'm not, but I just googled him and it looks like I should check out his work. Thamks!


message 13: by Nick (new)

Nick Green (nickgreen_catkin) | 4 comments The trick to avoiding cliches is just to try and 'keep it real'. If you write only what feels true and honest to you, not just phrases you've heard/read, then what you write will be relatively cliche-free, because no-one else has experienced the world in quite the same way that you have.

Don't reuse old cloth.


message 14: by Hannah (new)

Hannah (inkandcocoa) Lili wrote: "Amazing. This is a book I'd totally read. Does it have a name yet?

Now things to avoid:

1. Insta-love

2. Love triangles

3. Douchey male love interest

4. Helpful and totally in love best frien..."


Everything you said here is flawless.

And I agree with Nick with trying to keep things real as you can. Keep your characters authentic, focus on what makes them human and let their personal values shine though to guide them. You'll be fine.

Ash, I like your blurb a lot. The one thing I'd be careful about is labeling it YA when your MC is 19 and technically an adult by all legality--it's more likely to be classified as New Adult if you leave her at 19 as YA tends to focus on 15-17 year old MC typically. (Depending on your content it may fit better in New Adult as a genre anyway.)


message 15: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee Thanks Hannah,

yeah this age thing has been brought up before when discussing the idea with others - I know it's a bit borderline but I've always sort of thought it's more the subject matter that really defines it. I think perhaps I will wait until I've finished my draft and then re-assess, but I have read a few YAs with 19 year-old MCs (Sydney from Bloodlines and Paige from The Bone Season spring to mind) and stacks with 18 year-olds...but yeah, I will definitely wait and re-assess once I'm done with the draft.

Thanks for the feedback!


message 16: by M. (new)

M. Dobson (meg_evonne) | 20 comments Visit the forum for the author craft section. You'll be welcomed!


message 17: by Ashlee (new)

Ashlee Thanks Meg, is that in this group? Where do I find it?


message 18: by Eve (new)

Eve (efinny) | 2 comments Description sounds amazing!
My main problem with YA novels is the unoriginality with relationships - it's always so perfect and every problem gets dramatically solved. Also when main characters best friends are there for no use other than talking about the love interest.
The book sounds brilliant, good luck with it.


message 19: by M. (new)

M. Dobson (meg_evonne) | 20 comments Its not. Its an author by the name Jim-Butcher.com. it has author section. He writes the best selling Dresden Files.


message 20: by David (new)

David Roberts (twigo) | 9 comments I guess the main thing to avoid is to make the story or characters unbelievable. Unbelievable cliches: water and power available from some source after nuclear blast; badly wounded person is able to overpower stronger enemy; girl or boy forgives best friend for trivial reason; really sick, but plenty of energy to have sex; et al.

Hope these help.


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