f0zKg0J4zFLYz-Yq0aednQVqREE Once Upon a Prologue: Discussion Post - #1: Trends in Literature I'd Like to See Less Of
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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Discussion Post - #1: Trends in Literature I'd Like to See Less Of

Discussion Post #1: Trends in Literature That I'd (and we'd) Like to See LESS Of.  

{ | } Everyone is welcome to participate!  Maybe you agree with me.  Maybe you disagree (and if you do, that's okay)!  Maybe you can think of something I've forgotten!  Let's start a conversation and go back and forth.  I want to hear what YOU have to say.  I want to get to know y'all and hear YOUR side.  I'm going to highlight a few things that I, personally, would like to see less of in literature (mostly speaking of YA literature as that's the bulk of what I'm reading) and why, then I want to hear y'all's thoughts and opinions!

  • Love triangles.  *represses a shudder*  Here's the thing about love triangles.  At first they were okay, and kinda cool, and at times, really emotional and powerful - and amazing.  They still ARE amazing - when they are done well, and when they further the plot, or (for me) help the main character or one of the characters involved in the triangle grow as a character.  They can be a really effective way of making either of the three characters take a hard look at themselves.  And personally, from a writer's point of view?  They are damn hard to write and write WELL.  You almost always lose the integrity of the plot arc along the way, because it all falls into the triangle and gets kinda sucked under and washed away.  So they are dangerous, too - and not just for the reasons I've already stated, but also because too often, at least one of the boys (or girls) involved ends up looking like a villain for loving the girl/guy in question.  And when it comes down to it,  all too often when love triangles are used as the conflict in a book, or to ramp up the tension - for me - that just doesn't work.  There are better ways of developing tension in a book, just like there are stronger internal conflicts than a love triangle.  I read somewhere, and I wish I could remember where, though I think it was on another blog - that a lot of YA authors write love triangles because they think it's what readers want.  But I know for me, that's not always true. 

  • Insta-love.  I've agonized so much over this plot device that I'm almost not sure I want to say any more on this subject.  I guess for me, insta-love is something I've moved beyond.  When I first read Twilight, I loved Edward/Bella, just like everyone.  But in the last years I've come to enjoy a slow-burning love more - relationships that develop organically, over time.  Those tend to mean more to me, couples like Emerson and Michael in Hourglass (an example of instant attraction that grows), Calla and Ren and/or Calla and Shay in the Nightshade series, Ron and Hermoine in Harry Potter.  It's one thing - and sometimes really exciting and awesome - when two characters meet and there's that spark, that getting-under-each-other's-skin.  It's also REALLY effective story-telling sometimes.  But insta-love, just like love triangles, is a cheap and too-easy way of telling a story.  

  • Rushed endings.  I like stories that happen over time, but I've read some amazing ones that take place over a few weeks or even a few days.  But no matter how awesome the book is, if the climax is rushed and scattered, I'm going to wrinkle my nose and close the book with a "meh" feeling.  And I see this happen a lot, unfortunately, endings that could have been stronger, or happened too soon.

  • Short books.  Now this isn't to say that in the last year, I haven't read some GREAT books that were 300 pages or less.  But coming from someone who's used to reading 800+ pages books, suddenly all of mine being, well, short has taken some getting used to!  I hear people talking about books that are around 400 pages saying they are "so long," and here I'm thinking, "not really!"  I'd like to see more longer YA books - not 1,000 pages or anything crazy, but closer to 400 pages.  If the author can TRULY tell an amazing book in 250 pages (like Marie Landry with Blue Sky Days for example, which was a short, but life-changing book!), then that's awesome-sauce, and I'll flail and squee.  But I like to spend TIME with the characters, so I'd like to see more longer books.  

  • Less dysfunctional families.  Is there a rule somewhere that I don't know about where it says that to write a YA book, the main character's family members all have to be crack pots?  I'm not saying that to be snarky; I'm just genuinely bumfuzzled.  For me, the truest joy is seeing a supportive family, be it a sibling or a parent.  Those types of families in YA books give me the warm-and-fuzzies, but sadly, they don't make that many appearances.  Too often, the parents are dead or aren't around, or are manipulative.  Boo to this, I say.  Boo.  Bring on the AWESOME parents/siblings/aunts/uncles.  My favorite example since I've started my blog is Emerson's family in Myra Mcentire's Hourglass.  Emerson's brother and his wife were SO totally encouraging and supportive of Emerson, and imho, that made the story that much better. 

  • Teenagers that don't sound like teenagers.  If I'm reading a book about an 18 year-old, he/she needs to be a believable 18 year-old.  There's nothing more awkward than reading a book where even though a character is one age, their thoughts/actions mirror that of someone years and years older.  I recently read a book with a 14 year old trying to seduce a 40 year-old.  (NOT sexy.  Creepy.)   I don't mean that characters can't be mature in YA novels.  I've read MANY YA novels this last year that were borderline adult novels, and I never felt like I was lowering myself to read them.  I just think there's a balance, and I want to be able to relate to the characters, not be thinking, "wow, this dude sounds like he's from another time," or "whoa, how old is this girl again?"  

  •  Books filled with swearing.  Swear when it's appropriate, as Simon Tam once said.  (If you get that, I love you forever and ever.)  It means MUCH more and is far more effective when it matters.  Characters that go around popping off with this cuss word or that one every couple of pages really annoy me, and I'm that picky sometimes.  Too much language jolts me out of the story.  (Leave the cussing to my alpha males in PNR, mm'kay?  Cause that's a whole other story.)

  • SERIES.  DEAR GOD.  There is nothing wrong with a good stand-alone novel.  I've read some amazing series that I didn't want to let go of, and I've also read some series where it was clear the author only kept going to cash in and make more money.  Doing so is not always the best idea.  Yes, as I said above, I do get attached to the characters over the course of a book/books.  But there is a time when a series is the best way to go, and a time when you can tell just as compelling a story in one single book.  And lately, I've been craving more stand-alones!

{ | } Okay, YOUR turn.  Thoughts?  Don't hesitate to share!   I'm really really curious to hear what you guys think! 


Molli said...

I love a good series, too. Actually, series are my favorite because then I get longer with my favorite characters. But sometimes a stand-alone is awesome, too. I think my pet peeve is more when a series should end *coughs*Shopaholic*coughs* but the author keeps dragging it on.

And yeah, exactly, I totally understand about short books! With trying to do 2 reviews a week, I'm not sure I could read a LOT of longer books but every once in awhile, it's nice to dig into a 500 page epic read. :D

NO LOVE TRIANGLE! FREAKING EPIC! Gotta go check it out then. :D :D

Molli said...

Thank you! And yes, sometimes it's even adults in literature who aren't acting their age. I just want to reach into the book and...fix it. *twitches*

Jade said...

I agree with many of your points. Probably the one that irks me the most is the discrepancy in character age and how they talk, and carry themselves. It they are teens, please be sure they are acting and talking as teens. Like you said, there is nothing wrong with maturity or wisdom in these young folks, but some authors have written mini adults and it just doesn't play well most times.

I'm also a fan of the friendship and getting to know you type love. They are always more fun to read about because the interaction between love interests keeps the story going and progressing. And it's much more satisfying when they finally make it happen. Great discussion!

Reading_by_Kindle_Fire said...

I totally agree with all that. I haven't read that many YA, but I hate insta-love. I mean they're a lot in the PNR romances I read too, but since they're romances, the book focuses on them falling in love. However, in YA, insta-love sometimes just feel like a cheap way to say these two characters are in love now let's face the external conflict! I hate that. I want some of that slowly falling in love too.

And yeah, what's up with the series obsession? I totally agree that some authors must be writing series just to squeeze the money. Great stories can be told in one book. thank you very much. It annoys me especially when the entire first book is used to build the rest of the series and nothing actually happens in the first book! There's no conflict that gets resolved because that'll happen later in 2nd or 3rd books. If authors are writing a series, please realize that each book is a story and should have not all the elements of a story, not just build-up and tension without the climax and ending.

ok there's my rant! Great post!

ps. Check out the awesome giveaway going at my blog!

Ning @ Reading by Kindle Fire

Caitlin Lomas said...

Interesting points. I think everything you mentioned needs the phrase "that isn't done well " at the end of it. Some love triangles are AMAZING (like the one in VA) some short stories are AMAZING (like the one you mentioned) and some series are AMAZING. I think the most important thing is that authors should write what they want to write, not what they think people want to read. I think that's where the unrealistic niggles come from, personally.

The Cait Files

Juliet Darkwood said...

I completely agree with the insta-romance. Blech! Also, I've nominated you for an award! You can find it here: http://theatticreviews.blogspot.com/2012/02/lovely-blog-award.html

Heather_b said...

Very good points. Another thing I'd like to see more of is some epic covers. The YA industry seems to have come up with a lot of standard covers that are just picked because 'oh that's a cool shot', even I it DOESN'T ACTUALLY HAVE ANYTHING TO DO WITH THE STORY.

Also I think there has been a massive shift away from the 'weak' protagonist lately and while that's a good thing, even the strong protags are going to do some pretty stupid things at times.

I agrees with the whole 'series' thing as well, but for me it's more when you can tell the author has actually started to write with the audience in mind rather than the characters. That's a massive pain in the arse :(

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