08 August 2007

The New YA Clichés?

The July-August SCBWI Bulletin features an article by Joëlle Anthony called "Red Hair's Not as Uncommon as You Think".

Based on her intense and dedicated reading of apprximately 300 young adult novels, Anthony came up with a "countdown of things that show up repeatedly in YA fiction." Some extracts:

#20 - References/analogies to favorite picture books from childhood - especially Horton Finds [sic] a Who
#16 - Authors showing their age by naming characters with names they grew up with (i.e., Debbie, Lisa, Kimberly, Alice, Linda, etc.) [a form of authorial bleed-through]
#14 - Using coffee, cappuccino, and café latte to describe black people's skin.

#13 - Main characters named Hannah and making a point of it being a palindrome
#6 - Characters who chew on their lip or tongue in times of stress - usually until they taste blood
Duly noted.

I don't think Anthony's article is available on the web. (Well, actually it is, but I don't think it's supposed to be available on the web unless one is a member of SCBWI.) Eventually it may appear on her nonfiction webpages, which now feature some of her other articles about writing.

UPDATE: Book Book Book reports that Anthony has now posted her article on her blog.


Lee said...

Love that no. 14 and have even tried to think how parody it: vanilla shake skin? banana yoghurt?

(It doesn't show up in just YA fiction, BTW.)

ElsKushner said...

What a great article! Thanks for pointing me to it. The whole thing is on Anthony's homepage at:


J. L. Bell said...

Yeah, Lee, it makes you kind of wonder how authors ever described characters before Starbucks.