Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Guest Post: 10 Cliched Characters in YA

Today, my friend, Hannah, from Plottinger Twist is visiting, with a great post about Chiche characters. This post is all in good fun, so settle back and have a laugh. 
 Cliches are a common topic for book-lovers to discuss. This is probably because literature is riddled with them, particularly in Young Adult Lit! In fact, there are even parody Twitter accounts dedicated to/owned by the familiar characters we meet in many of these stories! (Check out @broodingYAhero, @TheYABestFriend, and @AspireYAAuthor to see what I mean... If for nothing else, you will get a nice giggle out of their posts!)
Anyway, I feel that addressing these cliches is important, not only to help us grow as readers, but also as writers! It is easy to slip into a slim-fitting, "one-size-fits-all" cast of characters & pre-made plot line and call it good. But our job as writers is to be unique. We all have our own voice and our own ides, and our job is to infuse our personal touch into the stories we write; not pick up someone else's overused hand-me-downs. And while the character idea itself isn't bad, overusing them to the point that they are see-through is bad! (When a reader can predict what the character is going to do, lines that will be said, and is rolling their eyes in annoyance when they guess right is an example of this 'bad' I speak of.)

So today I decided to examine a few of these "hand-me-down" characters who continue to show up from time-to-time. Maybe you recognize them. Maybe you've written a few of them. Perhaps you actually like a few of these characters. THAT'S OKAY. (I'm just as guilty as you are.) But the point of this post is not to bash anyone or something someone has written! The point is to help you examine your characters (and other people's characters) with a different point of view: a reader's point of view. So without further ado, let's meet 10 Cliched Characters in YA.

1.) The "strong, independent female" who doesn't need a man, but gets one anyway. She really is plain, but has a special something about her that attracts all of the guys from here to kingdom come. It's probably just that twinkle in her eye. Also, her childhood guy-friend has had a secret crush on her forever. *sniffs* I smell a love triangle approaching!!

2.) The brooding "bad boy" who just needs a good girl to come along and 'fix' him. It's the classic Beauty & the Beast twist! She will teach him manners, how to show his true feelings, and be an awesome study-buddy for English class... He will then reveal his secret love for her favorite obscure band. When she finds out, she will suddenly be more confident in herself & they will finally realize that they are made for each other. High school true love truly does fix everything.

3.) The "tortured, orphaned soul" who has no friends. Because didn't you know that no family = no friends? There are two extremes with this character. Either a) they will be too hard-hearted & tortured to be vulnerable for more than two seconds, or b) they will be unbearably whiny & impossible to comfort. Both feel like the world is out to get them. The way they deal with it is the only difference.

4.) That uninteresting "best friend" who is just there for the heck of it. They help the protagonist when they are having relationship problems, although they will never actually be in a relationship during the entire course of the book. They are also probably from a minority-group of some sort as well... C'mon, we need diversity, right? Right??

5.) "That one person" who just-so-happens to know everything about everything when the plot demands it. You know who I mean... They are closet experts in computer hacking, code breaking, & took a random first-aid class that happened to teach them how to set a broken leg properly. In short, they come in really handy when the author doesn't know how to do something, and is too lazy to research it, so they use the protagonist's ignorance to mask it! (Shhh... Don't tell anyone.)

6.) The "annoying wimp" who is there for no reason at all. Why is this person even here? Nobody likes this character. The other characters don't even like this character! Honestly, they are probably just there to make all the stupid/cowardly suggestions in order to make the protagonist look cooler by comparison. *shrugs* You do what you gotta do...

7.) The "idiot parents" who were never young & know nothing about anything. They are probably totally unfair too. And to add a little extra flair, let's say that they haven't the least amount of healthy parental concern for their child. Boom... Instant family drama.

8.) The blonde & perfect "mean girl" who is quite possibly the devil's closest living relative. She's probably captain of the cheerleading squad, dating the quarter-back of the football team, and has no reason whatsoever to hate the protagonist... But she will. Every time.

9.) The "stupid henchman" who's just there to grunt/giggle support. Honestly, how would the bad guys get anything done without them? They generally travel in packs of three. (One baddie + two cronies...) And they only live & breathe to serve their leader. Where can I get some when I rule the world??

10.) The evil teacher/principle/former mentor who is out to get the protagonist. While I whole-heartedly believe that mathematics is a form of torture somewhere in the world, generally speaking the teacher is not the evildoer. But apparently someone thinks so. Whether it is a plot to end the school's music program or squash the art club, this meanie is gonna do it. And they'll make everyone pay if they don't. Plus, they probably really like the bullies of the school & let them do whatever they want. Stay out of their way if you wanna make it to the next grade!

Thank you so much for visiting Hannah! Which cliche is the worst? Which books carry them off okay? Have you ever written a cliched character? Do you mind reading most cliches?

 Opal does not like bad boys (okay, so maybe she likes Dean off Supernatural. He's kind of bad??).


  1. Ooh, those twitter accounts are great. *nods* I follow at least one of them, and I'll have to make sure I go ahead and follow the one (or two) that I haven't followed already.

    This was a great post, and these are all spot on. So many of these annoy me a ton. I mean, I do admit that I don't mind reading a couple of them, like the poor parent one and sometimes the tortured soul one, but only if they're actually done well. Which they usually aren't.

    This was great! Thanks for sharing! :)

    1. I personally get a lot of enjoyment out of them as well :)

      Hannah certainly knows what she's talking about :)

  2. Hahaha these are sometimes so true! It makes you realise how much uniqueness is necessary, and how often it isn't. :)

  3. This was a really fun post :) Love the liberal use of gifs. YA seems to be the biggest offender in most of these, but I've found more and more adult novels that have 2D cliche characters. I'd say that the "Best Friend" and "Bad Boy that isn't really bad" are the most annoying to me. The best friend as the token minority is one of the worst - as it's unfair to everyone, and patronizing in general. The Bad Boys? Well, not that I *actually* want characters to be bad, it's that they spend more time angsting about how bad they are, and moping about how no one will respect/like/admire them because of it, that they hardly do anything - good or bad! So frustrating.

    Anyhow, great guest post, and these are handy reminders :)

    1. Gifs are the best :) 2D characters are a bit of a pet peeve of mine as well.


    Just wanted to let you know that I'm doing a monthlong collab month for April on my blog, and I was wondering if you'd like to participate? If it's something you'd like to do, e-mail me--my e-mail address is silvermesscontact@gmail.com--and I'll send you more information!

  5. THIS IS THE MOST HILARIOUS THING. The brooding bad boys are the worst. And the know-it-all reminds me of Radar from Paper Towns - although John Green somehow managed to make that work.

    Ellie | On the Other Side of Reality

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  7. Let's see... I really, really have a thing about the henchmen, as well as the parents who don't understand their kids because they just don't. Which, I mean, there is some truth to that, but not always to the weird extent that books make it sound like there is. Also, the girl who doesn't need a man but gets one bothers me a lot because it's like the entire point of her character just gets flopped around according to the writer's whim. XD These are so true and funny, though. Excellent post!

  8. Oh, wow... I literally JUST NOW saw that you posted this, Opal!! XD (I've been taking an unintentional hiatus from blogging because of school & life in general. But I'm trying to make my way back, and I was trying to check in on the rest of the blogiverse for the first time in a loooonnngggg time! Lol!) Thanks for sharing this & thank you for letting me guest post with you! <3