Please Stop- Tropes I Hate

As I said earlier this week, I love me some tropey goodness as much as the next person, and YA (my preferred genre) is full of them. But there are some tropes I’ve seen enough of, and here’s a few.

  1. Girls who don’t know how attractive they are. Okay, I get it. We all thought we weren’t attractive in high school, even if we were. But the reason we (I) thought that is because none of the guys were interested in me. I’m pretty sure that if I’d had a bunch of guys fighting over me telling me how pretty I was, I would have been like, “Oh, okay. I’m gorgeous. Cool.” Why is it such a terrible thing if the protagonist is attractive and knows it? It doesn’t have to be her only characteristic, (PLEASE don’t make it her only characteristic) but when everyone else comments that she’s the fairest of them all, and she’s clueless, I just roll my eyes. Make her confident and gorgeous and own it, or maybe she can just be average. Lots of people are.
  2. The love triangle. For the record, I don’t hate all love triangles. Some of them are done well. The fact is that most of us have never been involved in a love triangle; they just don’t happen that much. The love triangles I object to are the ones that seem to happen just to make the main character more interesting, or so that she has someone to fall back on when her main love interest breaks up with/ cheats on/ tries to kill her.
  3. The best friend pining for the main character. This one is my absolute least favorite, especially if it’s just a pawn of the love triangle. How to fix it: Have the relationship actually be platonic. Platonic guy-girl relationships are great.
  4. The main character has no friends. This one drives me crazy, especially in mental health fiction. Sure, there are some people out there who are isolated, but not everyone gets dumped by their friends when bad things happen. This is just a plot device so that the love interest who comes along can save them. Because there’s always a love interest who saves the day in these books.
  5. The main character is so different/ special/ not bitchy like other girls that she has no girlfriends. This one really needs to stop. I tend to get along better with guys, but I have plenty of girlfriends. If a girl gets along with no other girls, she’s probably a problem. Let’s all support one another and realize that our differences make us awesome. It doesn’t have to be Manicures vs. Getting Your Hands Dirty. We can all coexist.
  6. The love interest is really an immortal creature who’s been around for hundreds of years but still acts exactly like a teenager and falls in love with a teenager. Maturity is not a function of what you look like! Just because you look like a 16-year-old doesn’t mean you should still be acting like one forever. If you are, that’s a sign of a serious problem. There are reasons why maturity level might not happen and this relationship could become plausible. In Anna Dressed In Blood, Anna is a bloodthirsty ghost who loses her identity. When she falls for Cas, it makes sense because when you’re just tearing people apart, you don’t have much time for personal growth.
  7. Stalking = love. It doesn’t. No means no, and go away means go away. While we’re on the subject, possessiveness and jealousy don’t automatically equate to love either. I can give these somewhat of a pass in YA fiction because teenagers are immature and hormonal and do stupid things… but let’s not act as if it’s romantic.

What tropes do you hate?

Related posts: Shut Up and Take My Money! Tropes I Love


ImageI once read a bit of writing advice that said it’s important not to put slang into your story so as not to date your work.  In that way, your work will be able to have longer lasting appeal.  For a little while, I bought it.  I have a tendency to believe just about anything, at least at first.

Now I think that bit of advice is hogwash.

Having a story without anything to “date it,” when done deliberately, is a bit like cooking without any spices so that you don’t offend any taste buds.  I was reading a book today in which the author referred to someone watching Johnny Carson.  Until I read that, I hadn’t realized the book was published in 1990.  I liked reading that.  There’s another series of books, the In Death series by JD Robb, which are set in 2059.  The author has some of the characters use slang, different slang than what’s used now, but I like the fact that the characters talk differently.  I think that it adds to both the setting and adds depth to the characters.

Let’s face it, timeless classics are anything but “timeless.”  I like reading Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice, not because they’re set in a time vacuum, but because the characters are timeless, the plot is timeless, and they way they make me feel is timeless.  It’s like the photos I talked about yesterday.  Reading these books is like looking back at a moment in time.

I don’t advocate adding slang just for the sake of doing it, or putting in things to date your work just because.  But if something fits, if it adds to the story, or the character or just feels right, then of course you as an author should add it.  I judge what to put in and take out by what I like to read.  If I enjoy it as a reader, then it’s the right thing to do as an author.

Friday Writing Prompt- Annoyed by Statuses

Here’s a writing prompt inspired by the Facebook article earlier in the week.  Write a journal entry or story about statuses (Facebook, Twitter, or even water cooler) that annoy you.  What kind of things do you (or your character) dread hearing about?  How do you (or your character) react to them?  Do you (or your character) want to react differently?  Has there ever been a time when you (or your character) did something, like unfriended someone or told off that person at the water cooler, and later regretted it?

Happy writing!

Time Flies… Please Come Back!

I’m just not good at keeping schedules on my own.  When I was younger, I was one of those people who always had trouble getting to work on time.  I was usually something like two minutes late or just getting there as I was due.  Lucky for me that I only held one job that would have fired me for that, and even they were lenient with me.

These days, I do much better at getting to work on time.  I’m usually at least 15 minutes early, sometimes more.  However, I’m not very good about keeping to a schedule on my days off.  I think about it.  I want to.  But other things always seem to come up.

This means that while on “work” days, I manage to exercise, pack my lunch, write my blog (well, mostly), play with the dogs, and eat breakfast (not in that order), on my days off, I manage to… well… surf the internet, read books, cook some stuff, and do dishes.  I have a hard time finding time to write, even though it’s right there.  I also have trouble getting everything done that I want to.

I keep doing things like writing myself schedules or swearing to be more disciplined.  I don’t need to make time to do what I want.  It’s there; I’m just not using my time efficiently.

I know this doesn’t sound related, but stay with me.  I’ve failed at a lot of diets over the years.  I’ve gone on them, then off them when they didn’t work.  So far, I’ve managed for the past two months to make a “lifestyle change.”  I have not gone on a diet.  There are no forbidden foods.  I’m just eating a whole lot more veggies and a whole lot less processed food.  I’m happier, have more energy, and have lost some weight.

So, I’ve decided that I’m no longer going to try to “get organized” or make myself a schedule.  There’s no “falling off the wagon” that way.  I’m going to try to incorporate one hour a day of writing (on my days off).  Maybe I’ll go with a more realistic 15 minutes a day on my work days to start.  It doesn’t have to be all at once.  If I miss some days, no recriminations, no problem.  Just try to do it the next day.  And if that doesn’t work, I’ll have to ask myself why.

So now you know why I don’t post every day.  I’m sorry!  I mean to.  I usually have ideas. I just never quite get around to writing them down.

I don’t do well with limits.  I’m not much of a sweet eater, but if you tell me I can’t have chocolate cake, that’s all I’ll crave.  It’s the same thing with the schedule.  By putting so much focus on what I “have to do,” I forgot that I tried to create a schedule because it’s all stuff I want to do.  Okay, not the dishes.  Or the cooking.  But you get the idea.

I’ll let you know how it goes.

Learning How To Write

My writing career started in third grade with a story called, “The Cream Colored Pony.”  It was good enough that my teacher had me re-copy it to give a copy to our principal.  From there, I went on to write several novels and more short stories and partial stories than I can count.  I wrote my first decent novel in 2004, and my husband changed my life when he asked me, “Why don’t you try to get any of this stuff published?”

I’ll be honest; it had never occurred to me before then.  Writing was fun.  It was a hobby, but to be published?  Who really did that?

Of course, it was a blonde moment.  I read tons of novels, so I know that people write for publication, but it seemed to be in the way of famous actors and people who keep their house clean.  Those are things for other people, not me.

So began a long journey.  I started by reading books and buying the Writer’s market books, blindly sending letters to editors.  I learned a little more when I went to my first Writer’s Conference, and learned how woefully unprepared I was for my new experience.  In 2007, I moved from Pennsylvania to Arizona, and my experiment in being published fell by the wayside.

I’m not sure how I discovered, but it was sometime in fall of 2009.  It was through the reviewfuse community that I learned I have several shameful vices.  I love adverbs.  I love to start sentences with an unnecessary “so.”  I love to put “that” where it doesn’t belong.  And I am enamored of passive voice.  I could go on and on.  I felt kind of ashamed that I’d ever considered myself a pretty good writer.

After I got over my own ego (it took longer than it should have, BTW), I realized that my choices were to cling to the way I wanted to write, or try something new and maybe get better.  I decided to soak up all the wisdom I could, separating the truly helpful tips from the ones that make me go, “huh?”

Today, I’m proud to say that I’m still improving as a writer.  I try to take advice gracefully, even when it isn’t offered gracefully.  I try to pay attention to other writer’s styles.  There was a time when I couldn’t read a book without automatically correcting passive voice in my head, even if it resulted in something ridiculous.  I’ve learned to take a step back now.  Not every bit of advice has to be followed to the letter.

For a while, I think I strayed from the path of writing being fun and kept looking forward to the destination of publication.  Now, I’m trying to just enjoy the journey again.  Would it be great to have my novel published?  Uh, yeah.  Will it make writing less fun if it never happens?  Nope.  Not one bit.

The Problem with Titles

I hate picking titles.  Hate it.  I can never figure out what makes a good title even though I can recognize one when I see it.  That’s how I know I’m bad at it.

Sometimes a title for a story will pop into my head, and I’ll think, “Hey, maybe I’m not so bad at this after all.”. Then I realize that I just got lucky.

In short stories, the title the author picks is generally not changed, so the challenge for the author is finding one that will captivate the attention of both the editor reading the short story, and ultimately, the reader.

In a novel, however, I read a statistic that 50-80% of titles are changed prior to publication.  Some might ask, if it’s going to be changed anyway, why bother?  Well, you still have to attract the attention of an editor and/ or agent.  A good title can help with that.  While a book is never going to be sold or rejected on the basis of title alone, every little thing that gets the attention of the reader is a good thing.  The book market is extremely competitive, and we authors need all the advantages we can get.

With that in mind, I did some reading on picking titles for fiction work.  I’ve shared a few of the most helpful websites I found.  Good luck!—Pick-The-Perfect-Novel-Title&id=1184878

What is a Writer?

I had a conversation with a friend yesterday.  He’s recently started writing, and he said that he doesn’t feel right calling himself a writer because he’s never written anything before and it seems presumptuous.  In my opinion, the definition of a writer is that they write.  Period.

I’ve seen people on forums who are interested in the “fame and fortune” that can go along with being a well-known author.  They submit a proposal to an agent or an editor without actually writing the story.  They don’t want to write; they want to be published.  Writers can want to be published.  It just can’t be the reason for writing.  I mean, it’s a huge thrill every time I have a short story published.  I’m no Dean Koontz or Nora Roberts, but I don’t aspire to be.

I think that in order to call yourself a writer, the writing has to be what’s important.  Other things can be in there: publication, being known, having your work read and enjoyed, etc.  But those can’t be the primary things.  Writers like Dean Koontz and Nora Roberts are pretty prolific, often publishing multiple novels a year.  I seriously doubt they’re doing it because they need the money at this point.  So why?

Because they’re writers.  And writers write.  They do it for the love of words and the love of the story.  They do it because there’s something inside them.  Some writers only have one story to tell.  Some have millions.  But the writer who has just that one story is no less important than the one whose head is full of people and places.

If you have a story to tell, don’t let anything hold you back.  Don’t let fear of rejection, or that you’re not good enough, or that you haven’t been trained hold you back.  Tell that one story for yourself.  Some people aren’t great writers, but writing can be learned.  Anyone can learn grammar and how to avoid the passive sentence.  There are peer review sites and books a-plenty to help.  Storytelling can’t be learned.

So if you think you might be a writer, then write.


Sometimes people ask me where I get my ideas.  I’ve seen published authors comment on this as well, and though many people don’t like that question, I don’t mind.  I love talking about stories and plot points and the psychology of characters.  In fact, I’ve had people ask me questions and gone on and on until my audience is pretty much comatose.

So, where do I get my ideas?  Where don’t I get them?  I get them from news stories, the grocery store, my dogs, my husband, a snippet of lyrics from a song, a book, an overheard conversation.  There’s a ton of inspiration out there waiting for writers to capture it, twist it, and put it on paper.  Sometimes I’ll take an idea, or a word, and run with that.  Now, some of the stuff I write is bad, and for my eyes only.  But what makes someone a writer is not necessarily the finished product.  Editors can help with that.  What makes someone a writer is the actual act of writing.  The fact that you have to write, just like you have to breathe or eat.

It doesn’t matter what I write.  I have notes, phrases, quotes all over.  I keep meaning to get a system.  Maybe I’ll make it my New Year’s resolution.  Again.  The fact is that I have to be surrounded by words, my own and that of others.

So, if you’re a writer or just curious about the process, inspiration is all around you.  Stop, look around, and get writing.  On paper, or even just in your head.

Dark Comedy

I Google all sorts of things that most people would think was a little weird.  I do this because I wonder about things or wonder about what will come up.  I can’t say I’m actually looking for any real answers when I do this, but it is entertaining.

Today, I Googled “reasons to commit suicide.”  No, I’m not suicidal or anything even resembling it.  I’m writing a story.  Many of my stories are organic.  A first line or a character pops into my head, and I’m off and running.  I write the story, often not knowing where it will lead.  Since I’m not a stare-off-into-space kind of girl, I tend to Google things and see where it takes me.  Sometimes I read something that resonates and makes me think, “Oh, that’s got to be part of my story!”  Most of the time, though, I find things I wasn’t looking for that lead me off onto tangents.  Like today.

If you’re not into black, satirical humor, DO NOT follow the link I’m going to provide.  You probably won’t find it funny at all.  Suicide isn’t funny, but then neither are a lot of things in life.  The thing is, life is what it is.  That’s not exactly deep or profound.  People do things everyday, some of which are wonderful and great, but others aren’t.  I long ago decided that I can respect the individual and still laugh at the dark comedy.  And frankly, I expect others to do the same when it comes to me.

I write a lot of horror, and a lot of romance.  Quite frankly, both are depressing topics to write about.  In horror, as expected, awful things happen or are done to people, which can make me sad about them.  I know… you’re asking, “Why is romance depressing?”  Because in a good romance novel, very little is true to life.  Maybe the characters are great and realistic, but in real life, love is never as easy as it is in a book.  And even if the book is very rocky getting from beginning to end, even if it’s true to life, I can open the book, and it will happen the same way each and every time.  How many points in your life would happen exactly the way they did if you had to relive them?  How much does chance rule your life?

I don’t want you to think I find life depressing.  I don’t.  I know that people are capable of great things, awful things, and everything in between.  And that’s okay with me, as long as I get to laugh.

Here’s the link: