That time you accidentally write a YA novel

Here I was, thinking I’d come up with the most original idea of the century. My novel had a riveting plot, unique characters, and a twist you would never see coming!

Except… it all just seemed so damn familiar. My story was about a young girl with special, hidden powers who enters a new world and falls in love. Except… it all gets complicated when she falls in love with a second guy, and not only that, she has to save the world! And did I mention she’s secretly from a royal family and is also a half-mythical creature? I think I pretty much covered all the bases there!

The basic requirements for a young adult, (fantasy) novel:

Young white girl (or harry potter)

Has a special, hidden power

Father or mother died when he/she was young (or maybe not O_o)

Usually an only child and lives with relatives or mother

Enters or discovers a new world

Falls in love, but it’s SUPER complicated

But then suddenly there’s another one he/she also falls in love with

Moral dilemma, who will he/she choose?

And how can he/she save the world?

Finds out he/she is royalty or some kind of half-mythical creature

The bad guy might not necessarily be the bad guy

Saves the world using special powers

Finally reunited with father (wait, he’s alive?)

Either chooses original first love, or the first dies and he/she chooses the second

Here are some popular movies/novels that pretty much follow the formula:

Clary in The Mortal Instruments

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games Trilogy

Luke Skywalker or Leia Organa in Star Wars

Percy Jackson in Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief

Harry Potter in Harry Potter

Bella swan in The Twilight Saga

Many thanks to this tumblr post for giving me the earth-shattering realisation that my paranormal romance was a YA fantasy novel:

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On the plus side, it seems to be a winning formula!!

17 thoughts on “That time you accidentally write a YA novel

  1. Pingback: What is it like writing a dark psychological thriller? | Milly Schmidt

  2. Helpful checklist! I’m glad to say that my recently-finished YA novel hits a few of those points, but not all of them. But then, it started off as a sci-fi/fantasy web series (genrewars.tv) and has evolved into a new medium. And thank you for liking my blog post about my novel (the one I’m crowdfundng on Inkshares)! I hope this means you’ll check it out! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Killing off a favourite character – coffee, chocolate & writing

  4. Fun post. Yes, we all fall into genre guidelines. But people love them and despite the similarities, the characters, settings, and plot choices we make can lead to a truly unique story. You give some great examples. Happy writing!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. snark of the month (but also truth of the month!) goes to this article 😀 It’s funny how the same formula can lead to some of the best stories out there (Harry Potter, anyone?) but also to some of the worst (I’ll keep examples to myself lol)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you!!! 🙂 I was almost surprised (shouldn’t have been) at how many stories you can squeeze to fit the formula. I wonder which ones you think are the ‘worst’!! hahaha. I’m sure I could have searched harder and found some atrocious examples, but decided to only add ones that I find entertaining 🙂 (and yes, I even love twilight’s sappy goodness)

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  6. Nailed it. This is absolutely the roadmap for 90% of YA fantasy novels. I suppose Patrick Ness already sort of did this with The Rest of Us Just Live Here, but I wonder what the complete opposite of this list would look like.

    Maybe something like this:
    Old man of color does not have a hidden power. Both of his parents are alive and well, and he has many siblings. He remains in his own world and does not fall in love (because he’s content with his uncomplicated marriage.) He does not have to save the world, but he does anyway (with no special powers). When he’s done conquering the bad guy (who is definitely the bad guy), he kicks it on the porch over a couple of beers with his very-alive dad.

    Liked by 1 person

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