Written by: Maddy
As with every media, YA is not without its faults. And often YA is full of unnecessary tropes that as a reader, I am simply tired of seeing repeated time and time again. Some of the most over- used outdated ones are:
The “my parents are divorced and it’s the worst things that’s ever happened” trope– Look, I’m not saying that a divorce can’t be one of the worst things to ever happen to a child, but it’s not the only scenario that ever happens. Divorce isn’t always a life ruining, family ripping apart experience. Most of the people I know whose parents are divorced seem happy. They see both their parents. No one’s trying to rip each other’s throat outs. Simply put, they make it work. So please stop making divorce a one size fits all category in the YA genre.
The “love at first sight” trope- Everyone is familiar with this trope. It’s so common that when a guy character is introduced I instantly think he must be the love interest. These thoughts are almost instantly confirmed when the main character suddenly is head over heels for the guy. I can’t even decide what I want for dinner as fast as characters are falling in love.
The “guy best friend that is madly in love with the main character” trope- This is another one that sure does happen, but it doesn’t happen every time. This is going to come as a huge shocker for some people, but a guy and a girl can be just friends. Especially when they’re best friends, that makes it less likely. It’s incredibly toxic to imply that there must be something between people of the opposite sex, because it just makes it harder for people to accept having them in real life. So, if more books could remove the friendzone trope that would be awesome.
The “I’m not pretty I’m plain” trope- My face isn’t going to be turning heads on the street, I’m not gorgeous or more than average, but I don’t want to read about that in every book I read. It seems like a nice gesture to make the boss main with the super-hot boyfriend not that attractive to show that it’s what’s inside that matters. No. Stop it. I have my own insecurities to deal with. I don’t need to hear about them in every book with every main character talking about their plain features and how they wish they looked like their gorgeous best friend or even parent? It’s getting old. Just change it up. There is too much diversity for you to keep using this cop out trope.
The “just got this magic but I can instantly beat everyone” trope- there must be a learning curve. They can be the most powerful magic person ever, I don’t mind that, but you must show them working for it, show them getting to that point. Have them accidentally burn someone’s hair off if you must, but please give us that magic montage. It makes them winning more satisfying and it makes it so much more realistic. The only person I’ve ever met who just instantly is good at everything is my older brother, and it’s just ridiculously unfair and still doesn’t make sense. If you must rush things at least give the character a background that would be beneficial to said powers and show the connection so it doesn’t look out of the blue. Just please stop making everyone a Mary sue.
The “family member just died so I shall become a hero” trope- This trope is the superhero go to. However, at this point, it’s just an excuse to come up with a better origin story. There are so many way cooler origins you can go with that will give your character more personality and establish characteristics better. Captain America’s reasons give you more about him and a better understanding of his motives in life and how stubborn he is than a certain uncle dying. Not everyone needs to die in the first page for you to have motives. You could make someone’s entire backstory that they were too nosy and got caught up in the wrong thing because they were curious and have it be a better beginning to a story.
Tropes aren’t bad because they never happen, they are bad because they make it all that happens. What makes YA so amazing is that its diverse and its gives you fresh stories and exciting adventures, but tropes hold this back. They make a story mundane, predictable and frustrating. It’s not to say you can’t use them but you must put spins on them, you must make it your own. Tropes are putting writers in a box and it’s time we open the box and let new ideas and plot lines surface, so that YA can be everything it should be. I’m tired of reading the same story with different names and a different cover, and I know my fellow readers are too. Make your story your own, make it new.