Around this time last year, I wrote a post about my favorite fictional couples (which you should definitely go back and read if you missed it the first time around). I thought it would make a nice parallel to do a similar post this year, but focusing on characters who aren’t in relationships.
And then I ran into a slight problem: I couldn’t think of any.
I know, I was pretty surprised too, but let me explain. The single characters I could think of usually didn’t work for one of two reasons. One, they were not main characters, so the audience isn’t expecting to hear much about their relationships unless it’s directly related to the plot. Two, the character is the “token” single person in a cast of characters who had romantic relationships, so there’s a heavy focus on how they’re different from the other characters. There were still a handful remaining after I completed that criteria, but certainly not enough to write a whole list like last year.
That got me thinking – where are all of the single people in our stories, specifically in YA fiction?
Happy October! Depending on where you are in the world, it might finally be starting to feel like autumn for you (yes, we had 80-degree days here in the middle of September). Midterm exams are coming up at my school, but I’ll be going home for Fall Break in less than a week! I’m looking forward to it.
And in case you missed anything on Maggie’s Musings this month, I blogged about:
If you handed me a young adult novel and gave me thirty seconds to look at it, I could probably tell you a bit about the cast of characters. There’s a pretty good chance the cast consists of a dark and mysterious guy, an insecure girl, and a vaguely attractive childhood friend.
Not all YA books would be like that, of course, but a majority of them do contain these basic character archetypes. They’re like pages in a coloring book – an outline for the writer to fill in with whatever colors or patterns they see fit. There’s nothing wrong with that, but some of these archetypes have become tropes. In other words, all of the writers are coloring in the picture the exact same way.
These tropes make stories predictable, which gets boring for the audience. But are all tropes really that bad? Can any of them be salvaged? I’ve picked ten of the most common character tropes in YA fiction to try and answer which tropes are really worth saving (and how to save them), and which ones should be tossed aside.
I just recently finished rereading one of my favorite book series, Gallagher Girls by Ally Carter. The series takes place at an all-girls school for young geniuses where the students are trained for future work as scientists, analysts, spies and other high-level government jobs. In the meantime, however, the girls are still navigating everyday life (they’re just doing quantum physics instead of high school biology).
Not only is the Gallagher Girls series one of my favorites, but it’s also a very well-written series of books. There are a lot of elements that make the Gallagher Girls amazing, and so today, I’d like to share some of the biggest writing lessons I’ve learned from this wonderful series.
Welcome back to another round of the Great TBR Purge of 2017! In case you missed it, last week I wrote about how since it’s my goal to read 40 books this year, I want to spend my time reading books I actually enjoy. With that in mind, I’m clearing out my to-be-read list on Goodreads and only keeping the books I’m actually interested in reading.
Last week, I wrote about 7 books that I found on the list, and this week I have 7 more! If you missed last week’s post, be sure to check it out first (or if you just want a recap. The second half of the list is below the cut!
Or, “Books on my TBR, why they’re still there, and if they’re going to stay.”
I was looking at my “To-be-read” list – a.k.a. my TBR – on GoodReads the other day, and I realized there are quite a lot of books on it. Many of them I don’t even remember putting on the list in the first place. Since it’s one of my goals to read 40 books this year and I want to spend time reading books I actually enjoy, I decided that it would be a good time to clean out – purge – my TBR.
I’m removing a lot of books, but I picked 14 to share with you, 7 this week and 7 next week. Without further ado, the first have of the The Great TBR Purge of 2017!
Similar to last week’s list, these characters are a varied bunch. However, they do share one defining quality in that they’re not flat characters. In all of the books mentioned, the authors have taken the time to create three-dimensional, unique characters that aren’t simple cliches.
(By the way, if you want to read more rants about character cliches, head on over to Between Reality and check out my guest post there!)
I don’t have as long of an introduction as I did last week, so I’ll let the characters do the rest of the talking. Here are my Top 5 Heroes (in no particular order)!
A few weeks ago, at the insistence of a friend of mine, I read the YA sci-fi/dystopian novel Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson, and I thoroughly enjoyed it! The story takes place in a post-apocalyptic United States where a group of people, called Epics, have gained superpowers. The main character, David Charleston, is seeking revenge against Steelheart, the Epic who killed his father. To do so, he must enlist the help of the Reckoners, an underground group that fights against the Epics.
As I was reading Steelheart, I not only enjoyed the intriguing storyline and fun characters, but it was also a very well-written book. Sanderson did a wonderful job in crafting the story, and I realized that many of those things could be applied to my own writing. So instead of writing a book review, I give you: “Writing Lessons from Steelheart”
(Don’t worry, no spoilers! The only plot elements I’ll discuss are ones revealed in the book’s synopsis)
I’ll be the first to admit that I criticize young adult books more often than I praise them. This is partly because I have a tendency to be cynical, and partly because the YA genre as a whole is extremely saturated with poorly-written books.
That being said, I don’t actually hate young adult books. I know it comes as a shock. But in reality, I actually really love reading YA, and that’s what occupies most of space on my bookshelves. I like to say that I criticize it out of love for the genre, because it has so much potential, and yet so many books fail to reach it.
There are some diamonds in the rough when it comes to YA – it just takes some time to find them. Anyway, to balance out my sarcasm and criticism from last week’s post, I’ve decided to list a couple of things that I like about young adult books. To be honest, this probably doesn’t apply to the genre as a whole, but in the YA books that I’ve really enjoyed, this is what has stuck out to me. So without further ado, here’s the list!
A good book is hard to find. This is a truth that I have acknowledged my entire life, but I have come to realize it more and more recently. With a Barnes & Noble gift card in hand, I have browsed the shelves dedicated to young adult literature in search of a book worthy of my “hard-earned” dollars.
Sometimes, a book catches my eye. Maybe the title is clever, or the cover is pretty. Either way, I find myself picking it up to take a closer look. I read the blurb – that little summary on the dust jacket or back cover – and, more often than not, place the book back on the shelf.
You see, there are so many authors trying to hitch a ride on the YA Fiction Express right now. And, quite frankly, that means that there are many, many sub-par books out there. Books full of clichés, poor writing, and very little creativity. I’ve found that while reading book blurbs, there are certain words and phrases that almost always turn me off to a book. Now, I’ve compiled the “Book Blurb Blacklist” so you can be an informed reader too.