Inspired by Megan’s post on trends that need to disappear, author and guest blogger Pema Donyo shares some thoughts on tropes we need more of in YA & NA fiction.
Where have you been hiding, female bosses and characters who are not white?
After reading Megan’s awesome post, The Five Trends That Need to Disappear, the article made me start thinking about all the trends I’d love to see *appear*. These are the plot points you wish you saw in books, but the ones that have somehow been ignored by the majority of literature until now.
(Fellow authors, if you’re reading this, we’re looking at you!)
1) Contemporary thrillers! (and other action stories which don’t take place in the year 5050)
With all the buzz about The Hunger Games and Divergent and Game of Thrones, there’s clearly a space for action and adventure. How about an action and adventure that actually takes place on Earth for once? As in, our time. I’ve always been a fan of Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher novels, and it would be great for this genre to lead into YA/NA shelves. Especially featuring women kicking ass! Girls aren’t always the one hiding behind the big strong man to protect them (though that’s what a lot of book covers
might have us believe). Let’s take all the action of sci-fi novels and insert the high-stakes plot into a contemporary setting.
2) Female bosses
Attached to the Fifty Shades of Grey wave (and the Sylvia Day wave, and the Jennifer Probst wave, and even the first book Divergent – let’s be honest) you’d think the only gender capable of being a leader is a heavy-lifting male. Forget female corporate bosses, forget female leaders of Dauntless. Female leaders need to rise up among the ranks of literature and remain as a permanent trend. Female bosses do exist in the professional world, and it’s time we recognized this fact in our books as well as our research.
3) Characters who are not white
The overdone romantic dystopias (while my heart will always have a special place for The Host) are also havens for white people, apparently. Except for Rue. Rue was important. You know, as the supporting character who died. Forget multicultural heroes, heroines, and anti-heroes. They all white, if YA/NA literature is anything to go by. Multicultural characters are constantly featured as supporting cast, but never the leads. I understand that authors tend to write about their own culture (which it seems is only white culture?) but I swear, a third-generation Asian American and a second-generation Irish-American aren’t that much different. Racial diversity needs to emerge in contemporary fiction. I completely understand if the novel is an 1830’s look at Connecticut – not a lot of Hispanics there and then (although there were still more people of color present in such times and places than a lot of films, novels and even history books would have you believe). But if the novel is a reflection of 21st century Southern California, diversity would be more realistic than an all-white world.
4) Girls with actual self-esteem/boy doesn’t have to come along in order for her life to have meaning
You are beautiful too, Gus. Both of you. Beautiful couple. But guess what, Hazel? You were beautiful even before Gus told you that. Romantic novels which feature girls having low self-esteem and *then *meeting the guy (who magically gives her self-esteem) can be troublesome. Not to say I don’t love romantic novels; I do. But I’ll appreciate a story where the girl has self-esteem even without the guy at the beginning. Stories where the girl only believes in herself after a relationship preach the message that a guy will complete you, that he’ll add some long-sought-after dimension to your life. I’d love to see novels that start preaching the opposite.
5) Several friends
I cannot count the amount of novels that portray girls/guys with only one friend. I understand the need for authors to feel you have to develop every character (including the best friend) with some overarching moral to the story and see them grow over time – but if they’re not the main character, you really don’t. Especially among New Adult novels – the heroine has one friend and one boyfriend and that’s it end of story those are all the people she interacts with. Real new adults have acquaintances, guys-we-kinda-like, guys-we-kinda-know, party friends, etc. Our world isn’t limited to two people, and it would be great for novels to finally acknowledge that.
What trends would you like to see more of ?
Pema Donyo is a coffee-fuelled college student by day and a creative writer by night. Her debut novel and New Adult thriller, The Innocent Assassins, is signed for publication with Astraea Press in June 2014. Catch up with her latest release information or writerly musings on her website.