Hello dudes and dudettes!
Oh dearie ducks. It’s time for me to write another offending post.
I’ve decided to take it upon myself to write about some pet peeves of mine in the writing novels niche, which truly, I think are just bad, cheesy writing.
And it’s generally a LOT of young writers make these mistakes, I see New York Times Bestsellers make the same mistakes. Why?
Because these are mistakes that can sell.
As my Dad just recently told me, “Just because people love your work doesn’t make you good.”
Very true words indeed. Sometimes bad writing mistakes may just indulge the selfish, mean, or even sinful desires and feelings we have inside of us.
Of course, writers don’t generally (most of them, at least) try consciously to make you feel sinful or selfish. It just sounds good when you write it, and people generally enjoy it. And young writers especially don’t, that’s just what they’ve read, and it was a cool idea when their favorite author did it, so why not try the ‘ol cliche themselves?
Now before we delve into the list of these cringe-inducing mistakes writers fall into, let me open up by saying this: I have done and continue to make ALL these mistakes. I am JUST as bad with being tempted to be lazy by using cliches and making the same groan-worthy mistakes as the ones listed below. No one (not even bestselling authors) are above making mistakes in writing.
So without further ado (but a slight fear of *offended* people in the comments), let’s talk about some mistakes young writers tend to make when writing their novels.
1. The Very Special™ “Chosen One” (Usually an elf or wizard)
The Chosen One is so overdone I’m beginning to wonder why anyone does it anymore.
You know the story. There’s a farmboy (a simple, elven young man of course), going about their daily life (for about three pages) when low and behold, in the form of incredible italics, The Prophecy™ is unveiled, speaking of a chosen one who will bring down the evil king who has ruled this land with an iron fist for so, so long.
Farmboy wonders who this great warrior will be. It definitely would not be him.
But here comes the plot twist of the ages: IT IS HIM.
And usually he finds out he secretly can use magic and there’s some cool scene where he’s with this wizard with a long white beard
(why is this familiar) and he makes one (1) mistake in training to harness the magic for laughs, then suddenly he’s amazing and we can move on to the next scenes.
What a wonderful, original plotline. 10/10.
That is one of the reasons I enjoyed watching The Lego Movie for it’s plotline. Emmett not only found out that he wasn’t the chosen one (like he thought) but he was pretty much the most average, unspecial guy there was.
But do you know what? He was disappointed at that. But he got over it, and saved the world because he worked hard. Not because he was a chosen one with magical powers. He did it with hard work and what he had.
And I think people deep down can relate to that much better than they could with any chosen one.
2. Describing their characters like they have a crush on them
“He was slender, but not skinny. His arms were strong, like he could sweep me up in his grasp if he wanted to. But he never would. His rugged jawline would always set my heart a flutter. His dark blonde hair fell over his face just a little, hiding his stunning blue eyes from my heart. His perfect balance of inhumanly strong for a sixteen year old and yet not too overly brawny for someone who works out constantly made me want to go say hi.”
I think young female writers tend to describe their male characters with a little too much…..passion, at times. They’ve suddenly discovered that guys are quite the interesting thing to behold, and perhaps I’m experiencing their crush on their own characters?
Which can be rather unpleasant to read at times. I generally read a lot of material written by ladies (by coincidence, really, when I see a book that sounds appealing, I grab it – who the author is generally doesn’t have much to do with it), but I know that this happened the other way around with guys.
I think, however, it is possible to describe your characters, even handsome ones, without giving blush-worthy descriptions of them.
Shannon Messenger and her bestselling series, Keeper Of The Lost Cities (aka, my newest obsession), is a great example of this. Most of her characters are elves, which are by nature very good looking. Shannon gives great and instant pictures with her words without ever making me roll my eyes or groan.
I have made this mistake quite a few times, and in my attempt to stop that, I usually err on this side of not really giving much description on how people look, which isn’t really a good way to go either. I always find myself frustrated if the character isn’t given any description to how they look when I am reading, yet I always run away when it’s time describe my own. XD
Balance is the key. The reader would really like to know what color and kind of hair they have, what’s their stature, and some unusual features about them. They usually don’t need to know how awesome their jaw looked, how their arms were so strong and muscular, or how they looked so hot without their shirt on.
3. Unrealistic looks
This one ties in a little with #2. If you’ve ever been on a writer’s Pinterest board you’ll find that their teenage protagonists and their friends are looking suspiciously like mid-twenties models who wear makeup and designer clothes.
#Help #JustDont #CanYouNot #Stop
I’m not sure why this bugs me, but it does. Maybe it’s because that’s just not realistic. I am a normal person with a normal body shape and blemishes. AND DANGFLABBIT I WANT MY MAIN CHARACTER TO HAVE THAT TOO.
Also we must staahhhhpp with the “plain but actually STUNNING and GORGEOUS” girl MCs.
No. If you’re main character is not the most beautiful person in the world then she has to be to everyone else. Perhaps, even to her love interest. Maybe what her boyfriend ultimately fall in love with her is NOT her looks, but who she is.
Which, in reality, is much more romantic than a dude thinking you’re hot and that’s why he loves you.
And let’s actually have the characters (even the MC look like actual teenagers, who don’t wear makeup to basketball practice.
Looking at you, Troy Bolton.)
What if they looked more like this?
Instead of like this?
(And to the whiny commenters who will come up here and comment (in Hermey The Misfit Elf voice), “But I don’t uuuussssseeeee pictures of people for my characters bc I’m so awesomeeeeee.”
1, I don’t really care and 2, Even if you don’t we all KNOW that’s how you see them in your head because we’ve read your descriptions of them.)
I’m even fine with actors as long as you don’t use those *shudders* Disney Channel actors, which err on the perfect side a wee bit too much.
Good looking characters are fine. But goodness, not everyone of them have to be.
Two traits I’d love to see in girl main characters are these:
- They’re not pretty but they don’t care
- They’re good looking and they KNOW it
Being prideful about looks does not immediately make them the bad mean girl. And being homely and not caring about looks doesn’t make them immediately a wonderful person.
It makes them human.
Why do you think characters like Tony Stark and Han Solo are so loved? Sure, they could be prideful, egotistical, selfish brats, at least they felt human, because they had traits that reminded us of people in our own lives.
Maybe even ourselves.
Throw in a dash of wit and street smarts, and it makes them a character who you can both begrudgingly admire and secretly adore.
4. Baaaaaad romance
It doesn’t get much worse than YA romance, does it?
Maybe I’m crusty.
(Wow I’m not even 20 and already so hardened. #oof) But whenever I think of some random dystopian novel that’s not really about much past the steamy and/or dramatic and over played, I just want to gag.
Maybe I blame the authors. Because most YA and teenage romances aren’t about true love. It’s about attraction and what I want.
An old man who still wants to sit on the same side of the booth as his wife and hold her hand in the restaurant after all those years, good and bad? That’s true love.
When a thirty-something wife goes blind due to an illness but her husband learns how to do her makeup so she can still feel beautiful? That’s true love.
When you suddenly find out that your newlywed wife has a bad habit of leaving her clothes on the floor and you as neat freak husband hate that, but choose not to get annoyed and love her anyways? That’s true love.
When you as a immature teenage see a girl and think she’s sexy so you start fight the evil government with her and throwing witty banter around and while you’re in the heat of battle you share a steamy kiss?
THAT’S. NOT. TRUE. LOVE.
That’s being selfish and thinking she’s cute. That’s feelings. Not love.
I know this isn’t what is fun to our young hearts to read. It doesn’t necessarily set our hearts ablaze with flutters. And it certainly didn’t get Divergent, Twilight, and The Hunger Games anywhere.
(I told you this post was gonna step on some toes.)
But let’s be real for a second. You’re the female love interest in the heat of an awful battle going on in your fantasy world. This is the part where you’re supposed to glance up at the hot MC, with tears in your eyes, looking that really cute disheveled/dirty look girls always have in movies, and you want to lean in and give him a kiss. Of course, Dude MC (according to most female authors), thinks this is the most beautiful he’s ever seen you in his life.
Heh. No. Your armpits stink, your hair needs to be brushed, and please, take a shower. This guy who you randomly fell in love with a week ago is not going to want to kiss you right now. Maybe after you have a hot shower, you’re wearing pretty clothes, and you’ve got your makeup on again. But not before that.
Let’s start making more romances with true love.
4. Teenagers acting unrealistically
I’d love to see a group of actual teenagers try to run a secret rebellion. Acting how real 16, 17, and even 18 year olds act.
It probably would go something like this:
Draxen: “Okay bruh. So how exactly are we supposed to get into the presidetial headquarters and steal the document Dictator Jesh is hiding from the people?”
Keats: “Like, why are you asking me? Idk, I’m just actually hungry tbh.”
Chior: “Didn’t Celania bring the plans for the presidential building on how to break in?”
Celania: “Wait we had break in plans today??? Ah wait can you give me an extension on that?? I forgot!”
Again, I’m crusty, and when you think about it, this is how actual sixteen year olds (no matter how tough they are) would probably react to running a rebellion. They have lots of great ideas, but pretty much no clue how to execute them.
Much like myself when it comes to writing.
Do ya agree with me on the points I made? Do the young writers we know (including ourselves) need to start changing these things? Did I offend you? (Haha, I don’t care.)