YA Tropes I’m Using in My Novel

YA Trope Writing Novel

My last post talked about the YA tropes I’m avoiding in my novel. Now it’s time to take a look at what tropes I will be using. It’s unavoidable to use some tropes. I’m made my peace with this. More may crop up but these four are set in stone.

Here’s the countdown of the tropes in my novel from most legitimate to least legitimate.

4) Weird Names

I love weird names. The more obscure, the better. I feel sorry for my future children. They will never be James, Michael, Chelsea, or Jessica. My characters get the worst of it. Granted, I make up other worlds and it is unlikely Brittany would be a popular name in an imaginary world.

Other languages also fascinate me. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever learned Spanish as a second language. That doesn’t stop the word nerd in me from drooling at the sight of more verbs than English contains. I often pull names from other languages. However, I also try to place that name/character in a reasonable fantasy culture or nation.

My current work in progress is based on the Roman Empire. Using Latin based names makes sense. May I introduce you to Decima and Solara, two of the four. Next we have a nation that is a conquered rival. Enter Kalare, three of the four. Then comesĀ a nation with origins in Japanese culture. This gives us Umiko who completes the quad squad. Some of these names are common for the cultures from which they came. This doesn’t make them weird so much as different, representing different cultures. I can get on board with that.

3) Problems with Parents

As much as I would love to eliminate tropes, this one just makes sense. What teen doesn’t have issues with their parents at some point? I think the biggest issue with YA fiction is it goes to the extreme every time. They parents are either all dead, more idiotic than the teens, or actually evil, as in the bad guy. I want to have a normal, well adjusted parent/teen relationship represented in my novel. Here comes the caveat.

My novel is about four girls. It tells the story from each of their perspectives. This makes it an ensemble cast and each of them a main character. The odds of even one out of four not having a perfect family life is high. Hell, that was evidenced by my real life friend group in high school. I’m not going to give away details, but I can promise some of the girls will have issues with their parents. The ones who have healthy parent relationships will still show issues. After all, there is no such thing as a perfect relationship without issues, only a healthy one that deals with said issues well.

2) YA School/Academy

This is pure indulgence. I’m a sucker for any kind of YA fantasy novel about school or an elite academy. My biggest fascination lies in boarding schools. What most of us don’t experience until college (living away from parents, roommates, roommate drama, etc.) is forced on hormone-raging teens. How awesome is that?

A story needs conflict. An academy for teens pours conflict into a story’s soul. As if that weren’t enough, my academy is an elite military academy. Super-powered teens learn to wage war for the empire while trying not to kill each other in a more structured (oppressive) college dorm experience. They say to write what you want to read but hasn’t been written yet. I need this story in my life.

1) Teens Saving the World

I’ll admit, this is the least realistic trope I’ll be using. Every YA fantasy has a teen literally saving the day. I don’t want to downplay teens and what they are capable of. Alexander the Great, Joan of Arc, Anne Frank, and Malala Yousafzai are just a few teenagers who drastically impacted the world. Telling an extraordinary story about a young adult who creates an impact is great. But the reality is most teens won’t be the ones to save the entire world.

The challenge in my novel is trying to strike a balance of how influential my characters are to the world around them. They will make an impact. It would be a boring novel if they didn’t. Yet there will also be adults involved making an impact as well. It’s all about the balance people! Plus, it’s four teens trying to save their world. That makes it a bit better than one, right? Oh, my unavoidable tropes.

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