Saturday, March 27, 2010

Cliches Need Not Apply

Confession time: on February 22nd, the first completed draft of my WIP got deleted.

By magic.

'Cause I still can't figure out how it disappeared.

Okay... That's a lie... It was my fault... God, I hate owning up to mistakes!!

Anyway, my clumsiness led to the death of my first draft while I was in the middle of revising it. Many tears, fistfuls of pulled hair, and shrieking later, I chose to ask myself the following question: will I be able to do it all over again?

The answer at the moment was more along the lines of how-the-hell-am-I-supposed-to-do-this?!!, but right now, it's looking like a yes. A yes that took a while to appear, but it did. A yes that almost drove me clinically insane, but it didn't. Lexie's story is shaping up to be what it was, but with far less craptastic writing (I. Hope.).

And what was the reason behind the craptastic writing?

Cliches. Lots of them.

YA stories tend to sway toward similar storylines, but there's always a twist that makes them stand out. There's always something that the other books don't have that makes one story memorable. From what I've read, Lexie's story has a couple of twins in terms of main theme. But what sets it apart is, of course, the hook (which took a while to develop, the darned thing...).

My advice for writers diving into YA waters? Avoid cliches. Young readers have been there, done that with most plots in the market, even though they still respond to them. Try to spice it up or tone it down, but in an original way. Tired of girl-meets-mysterious-boy-and-forsakes-her-dignity-to-be-with-him? Write the opposite--give your character a purpose that doesn't involve being with the cute stranger, even though she's got the hots for him. Don't relish reading about an ordinary MC who turns out to be extraordinary and needs to be shipped off to an extraordinary school? Think about ways to weave an extraordinary MC with our blah world in a way that makes the reader get lost in the narrative. There are tons of possibilities for the creative mind, so don't lose hope if things fall flat in the beginning.

And that's what I've been telling myself ever since February 22nd. Rewriting is tough, but it can be way more rewarding than that first draft. Why? Because it will be better. Hands down.

Now I'm off to write what I already wrote, but kicking way more ass than before.


  1. Wow, losing my WIP would be my biggest nightmare! I can't imagine starting from scratch again, it's pretty amazing that that is what you are doing. Very good advice, I'm rethinking the dynamics of my MC and her love interest now :) Good luck with the rewrite!!

  2. That's incredible that you've managed to pick up and keep going after losing your WIP. I would have just died. Good advice about the cliches in YA books.

  3. Thanks!! It's been difficult to stay motivated, but I keep telling myself that everything happens for a reason. I think my first draft was sucktastic and it killed itself! Whatever the reason, I'm just glad I'm insane enough to start all over again. Best of luck with your WIP's, girls!

  4. WOW. Losing your entire WIP, that's sounds really familiar. It sounds familiar because it happened to me too! In 2009 I was working on the last two chapters and this cheapo computer I was using finally kicked the bucket. I lost everything. Every damn word, gone. It took me a long time to get back in the game. But now I'm finally rewriting my character's story.

    Seems like you jumped back on the wagon a lot quicker. Good job.

    (if you haven't noticed, yeah, I'm reading your entire archive. I'm really loving your posts.)