Tag Archives: writing

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To Trope or Not To Trope

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I’m at the end of writing the third book in my New Sight trilogy, which gives me the opportunity to look toward my next series. It will by YA Space Opera, and I’m super excited about it!

In an attempt to see what readers want, I pulled up the worst YA tropes ever. I read through a few lists and agreed with most of them. Then I pulled up the best YA tropes ever. I read through a few lists and…well…just read on.

YA Tropes We Love

  • The Chosen One – Only this character can save the world!
  • Love Triangles – Because ever girl secretly wishes she had two hot guys after her..
  • Surprise, you have superpowers! – How else are they supposed to save the world?
  • The world is so broken – Hello Dystopian society. Why fight bad guys when you can fight an entire bad system of government?
  • The “Strong” female character – Because girls kick butt!
  • The Super Evil Bad Guy – Because…evil
  • The dysfunctional family – Don’t we all love to watch someone else’s train wreck?
  • The tall, dark, handsome love interest – who also has a tragic past!

YA Tropes We Hate

  • The plain and super boring main character – who is destined to save the world
  • Love Triangles – They’re both so wonderful, however can I choose?
  • Your super plain protagonist has super secret super powers – this sounds familiar
  • The Coming of Age story – Because some people hate adventure? So they set their story in a dystopian world and all is well.
  • #StrongFemaleCharacter – A dude in a girl’s body
  • Evil Villains – who are evil just because it’s hip
  • Parents who are actually children in big bodies
  • The tall, dark, handsome love interest – who is a jerk

Do you see what happened there? Apparently readers hate the same things they love. I can’t tell you how confusing that is.

Needless to say, this little exercise didn’t really help me much. Thanks a lot, internet.


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Some People Change and Some People Don’t

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As a writer I often wonder why people like certain stories. What is it that draws readers to stay up until 2am to finish a book, or watchers to binge on Netflix for eight hours at a time? The reason is different for everyone, but by and large, most people love the characters in a story. They care about what happens to the characters, and that is why they keep reading or watching.

I’m 100% in this camp. Even an epic action scene or a perfectly timed comedy falls flat for me if I don’t care about the characters.

I’ve been focusing on characters in my own writing, and I’ve come to realize that I love two types of characters:

The first are those that make a change for the better.

The second are those that stick to their guns (ideals) no matter what.

I’m going to use Avatar: The Last Airbender for two wonderful examples.

First, Zuko: exiled prince of the fire nation tasked with the impossible quest of finding the Avatar and bringing him back to the Fire Lord (Zuko’s psychotic father). When we start Zuko has one goal: Get his honor back so his father will accept him. Zuko is young and headstrong and steps on a lot of toes during his journey. He throws literal fire-bending tantrums, and hates everyone and everything. The only person that sticks by him is his uncle, who is a saint.

As the story progresses, we see Zuko’s tragic background. As he is exposed to more of the real world, he begins to change. He starts to care about people besides himself. He starts to wonder if this hundred year long war, which is family has started and sustained, is really the best thing.

Just as he begins to turn onto a better path, he gets the chance to restore his honor…and he takes it. Injuring the Avatar and tossing his uncle away as a traitor.

I really wanted to slap him.

Zuko then gets what he wants. His father welcomes him home. His honor is restored. He is once again the prince of the fire nation. He walks the halls of the palace like a boss.

But it doesn’t last. He knows something is wrong. Or missing. Or both. As the third season goes on, you start to believe in Zuko again. And, in the end, he forsakes his father and joins team Avatar.

His journey alone is reason enough to watch the three seasons of this “kids” show.

Now to Aang. Aang is the Avatar. He’s twelve years old, the last airbender, fun-loving and ran away when he found out he was the Avatar because he didn’t want to be different. He just wanted to be a kid.

Aang knows he has to stop the war—it’s his duty as the Avatar—but he’s an air-bender monk, and doesn’t even eat meat. How can he kill the king of the fire nation? He spends the entire series preparing to meet the Fire Lord in battle, but he also spends the entire series  trying to figure out how to stop the war without killing anyone else.

This ideal is tested again and again. He hurts his friend with his first attempt at fire bending and refuses to learn it until Zuko comes to team Avatar. He always finds some way besides killing to fix the situations he finds himself in.

Aang is both very kind and very powerful. He sticks with his no-killing policy until the bitter end, even though it seems that he might fail as the Avatar. The world tries to sway him, but he refuses to budge. And in the end, he finds another way to defeat the fire lord.

This is two simple examples of basic character arcs that work. They get you to care about the character and then take you along for the ride of their stories.

Anyone have a favorite character in Avatar?

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A New Start

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Welcome to my new website!

Yes, I’ve jumped on the bandwagon and gone and done something new in January. What can I say, I give into peer pressure. Especially if there are cookies involved. But most of you already know that about me, don’t you?

Things in my writing life are about to get crazy. It’s my own fault, but that doesn’t make it any less insane.

I found out a week or so ago that I got a table in Artist’s Alley at FanX in Salt Lake City in March! Yay, my very first time having my very own table. I’ve bribed people to come help me sell books, and I hope to see all of you there.

When I got this news, I looked at my published books as well as my upcoming releases. It took me a little while to decide that I didn’t want to rush the last book of my Jagged Scars series in order to get it out by then. Instead, I’ve decided to go back to my first series, New Sight.

The first book isn’t a problem. I’ve written the second book, so I thought that wouldn’t be a problem either. Easy to do some quick edits and get them up before FanX.

And then I read book two.

Ugh. So horrible. I’ve obviously come a long way as a storyteller in the past two years, since I first wrote it. I can’t believe I thought it was finished. I can’t believe I sent it to my publisher like that! But I did, and they rejected it. I now have rights back for the whole series, including book one. So look for new covers and book two before the middle of March!

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, because what I thought was going to be an easy project of a few edits has just exploded into ripping the story apart, rewriting large swaths of it, and putting it back together before I can tie a bow on it and sent it to my editor.

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