There is a lot of writery talk about TRENDS in YA literature. Vampires are out(-ish) while post-apocalypse books are in in in. I’m not going to talk about that. I’m going to talk about what I think I’ll call bits. They are those things (usually kind of irritable) that I keep seeing in YA books that are like trends, but smaller. Like low-rider pants are to fashion. Low-rider pants may be a trend (this metaphor is imperfect), but I’ll argue that low-riding pants, which deliver the wearer into crack-chappy ickiness, which then makes us cringe and our parents scoff, becomes it’s own thing – a bit. Every time I see it, I’m like, hey, there it is again. I haven’t seen this bit in YA, it’s just an example. So, what bits do I keep seeing over and over in YA?
1. The vomit scene. And this applies to movies too. I get it: it’s a physical reaction to a situation that can bring out character without telling the reader/viewer, “Johnny was nervous,” etc. It’s just that I don’t remember seeing so much of it ten years ago.
2. Girls who drive recklessly. This makes me kind of nuts. Can we writers not find other ways to show our women characters as confident? If I see reckless driving in books/movies, I expect that it will influence plot as it did in How It’s Done and Looking For Alaska. If it doesn’t, then to me it comes off as lazy description.
3. A minor character with red hair or green eyes. This “bit” was not something I noticed originally, but something I read on another blog, and I’m sorry I don’t remember whose. But when it was suggested, I started noticing it A LOT! The point the blogger made was, (like my number two) writers seem to assign rare physical qualities to minor characters as an easy way to make them stand out. Again, lazy.
So, after noticing these bits, I examined my book and guess what? I had two of the three bits that irritate me. I was surprised at myself! I made sure I corrected one, but left one in. Not saying which, by the way. And I’m trying to be aware of where in my writing I’m being lazy. How about you guys? Do you have bits you keep seeing over and over that irritate you? Discuss.