Question: I write YA. How do I know what to steer away from?
Answer: The following YA tropes
- The Brooding loner that no girl can resist OR perfectly handsome
- Protagonist full of angst
- Rebellious princesses- or clumsy princesses with weapons skills that beat the evil master.
- Inauthentic dialogue- overdoing slang, dumbing-down, including trends, preaching moral lessons
- Overly odd character names
- One dimensional BFF
- Purely evil villains with no motive.
- Surprise royalty or powers
- Love triangles
- Life changing kisses
- People are killed for not conforming
- Soul mates without a choice
- The only makeup the girl wears is lip balm
- Over elaborate plot with a life changing mission
- Characters built on quirks/stereotypes
- Beautiful girl who thinks she ugly until some angsty boy tells her how beautiful she is- now she can do anything!!
- The chosen one- you are the only teen on earth capable of outwitting a league of demons
- Strong female protagonist who hates all girly stuff i.e. clothes, crying, makeup, girly actions, she’s a total tomboy with combat skills
- The head cheerleader- she used to be the protagonist’s BFF and one incident in the past turned her into a diva and they lost touch
- Omniscient government that controls everyone
- Super rich teenagers with race cars and live alone in mansions
- Best guy friend ends up being Romeo all along
- NO parents- dead parents (Orphan protagonist), abusive parents (protagonist in foster care), negligent or oblivious parents (protagonist runs around with absentee parents, no curfew, no one to call if they leave town).
- Mary Sue/Gary Stu- protagonist has high standards, tries to do the right thing, villain endangers their loved ones, they sacrifice themselves to save everyone, won’t intentionally kill, won’t choose one life over another, won’t let someone harm themselves, won’t leave anyone behind, thinks villain is likewise honest.
- Hero’s journey- hero realization, explaining mentor, adventure road trip with 3 trials/terrors, face-off, hero wins
- Unqualified teen protagonist succeeding over qualified adults
- Hero refuses to fight in an uncomfortable world, intervention by mentor changes their mind, they overcome fear, hero faces the ordeal, gets ready to fight (weapons training), wins the reward (love), there is chase scene on the road back home, hero saves the day.
- Hero wins via a magical talisman
Can you think of more? Add them in the comments below…
Have a great day!