There are so many perks to being a member of SCBWI
if you are a children’s writer (Young Adult, Middle Grade, Picture Books etc.). You get to go to conferences–both the regional and awesomeriffic national conferences– you get insider information, a group of peers who understand exactly what you are trying to write, and a really cool bi-monthly bulletin that helps you stay sharp with your writing.
Because we love our readers so much we wanted to go deeper into a topic that was brought up in the November/December 2010 issue
of the SCBWI Bulletin. This one page article briefly discussed the fifteen most overused things in YA writing. We are sure that just like us, as you read this list, a great YA book will pop up in your head…but since we REFUSE
to talk about books b/c we love them all so much, we won’t list examples…but I’m sure we’ll all be thinking of the same ones. 😉
So, take out your pen and paper and write a check mark for each of the following that you have done in your WIP or manuscript…If you find that you have checks next to five or more, then you might want to go and fix it, STAT!
15-Stories with irresponsible parents (leaving the kid to do the cleaning/cooking)
14-The MC likes retro music (usually b/c it’s the music YOU liked in high school)
13-Hot, young moms who are the MC’s best friend
12-Female MC who is obsessed with Jane Eyre
11-Lab partners where one person is the dork that does all the work…then they are the love interest later
10-A MC with only one best friend…then they get in a fight and the MC is all alone for awhile
9-A poor scholarship student in a private school
8-First POV and the MC describes themselves by looking in the mirror
7-MC that is a tomboy who doesn’t know how to do anything “girly”
6-Younger sis. that is the popular, gorgeous one
5-Big vocab. words put in by the author and then passed off as an SAT word
4-MC who happens to be the only one in their group of friends without a cell phone
3-Clumsy characters who couldn’t dance or play sports if someone had a gun pressed into their backs
2-Guys with striking, beautiful, gorgeous green eyes- this is used so much that green eyes are becoming as common as blue eyes. They no longer pack the same punch, so to speak.
Annnd the # 1 most overused thing done in YA novels is…..
Having your MC hate math
BTW- In Limbo had little traces of two of these cliches and has another one big time, so if you found a few, don’t be ashamed!
Now that you have this list handy, there are two things we’d like you to do for us (and for yourself):
1.) Do a quick writing exercise (this will be graded tomorrow–sorry, that’s the educators creeping out of us). Write for ten minutes straight using this beginning sentence: Mandy/Marc always hated his/her first day at a new school. Just write freely, then go back and see if you included any of the above cliches. If so, change them around and see how your free writing sounds now!
2.) Can you think of anything else that has been overused in YA that should be added to this list?
Really…you can come back and tell us later how the free writing went 🙂