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What Not To Do in YA- A Teen Writer’s Guide

What not to do in YA

I recently read a YA (young adult) book (which I will not mention) that made me both laugh and cringe at the same time. Mostly because the dialogue was so stilted and cliche, where every other word was lol or omg. Teens. Do. Not. Talk. Like. This.

Many adults i know use more texting abbreviations than I do. And now with smart phones there is no longer as much a need for these things. And even when there is, people do not spout them every other word. Omg they just don’t, like lol. (I hope that made you as uncomfy as it made me). *rant over*

Here are things to not include excessively in your YA novel/novella/etc.

  1. Lol/omg (see above).

  2. Kids acting dumb for no reason. Sure, youth do a lot of stupid things, but there is always a reason behind it, no matter how hidden. Try popularity, security, attention, affirmation, friends, wealth, success, etc. The bully isn’t bullying *just* because he’s a douchy guy, he’s also trying to assert dominance so no one messes with him, or gain respect from other guys, or get lunch money so he doesn’t have to reveal to everyone he’s poor. (Not condoning bullying, just condoning having round, complex characters).

  3. Emotionally unstable boy who makes for a questionable relationship, but all doubts are cast aside because of Love. Please stop making this a thing. Stalking is not romantic. Hot/cold emotions are not cute. Readers deserve better romantic role models so they know they deserve more than this.

  4. The girl who doesn’t know/realize she is beautiful until she gets male attention. Like the point above, the goal should not be to be oblivious of one’s attributes. Love should not fix everything, it should complicate things, like in the real world.

  5. Football and cheerleaders or other tropes without a spin. Been there, done that.

In terms of other cliches, I have to admit I love some of them (strong female character, apocalypse/dystopian, etc) AS LONG AS THEY HAVE A TWIST.

Should I say that again?

No one is going to make a completely unique story unrelated to any before it, and that’s okay. As long as it’s your story told your way, with new elements. For example: another kids-trying-to-survive story is meh but kids running to survive from acid blood rain on their way to solve a puzzle to get a lifetime supply of chocolate is a lot cooler. (weird, yes, and probably not something you should write a story about, but my point is still made, I think.)

Look up the cliches/tropes for your genre and make sure you haven’t included all of them in your book. Make sure the ones you did include have your own twist. Purposely include one or two but turn them on their head so the cliche is broken. Do whatever you want, just please do not include lol and like as every other word in the dialogue. Please.

If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my blog (right) and share it on social media. Have thoughts on common book cliches that you like or hate? Comment below. 

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