The Top 3 Clichés that Make Me Close a Book
By Kelly Kobayashi
1. The Love Triangle
How many times have you yourself been in a Love Triangle? How many times has anyone you’ve ever known? I’m sure I’m blowing your mind when I tell you honestly that neither is true from my own experience. Have I known girls who broke up with one guy because they found themselves attracted to someone new? Definitely. Have I known guys who stayed silent and sat on their feelings until they sorted out which girl of two to approach? Of course.
But I’ve never personally known anyone just so darn alluring that multiple people crushed on them (and made their passionate feelings known) at once. I’ve never found myself so confused by my own feelings as to selfishly string anyone along. I’ve never known any boy, girl, man, or woman so stupid as to not know the difference between “I find this person hot” and “I care for this person’s story, their happiness, opinions, feelings, and overall well being.” Lust and Love are not hard to separate, even for teenagers. Shocking, I know.
So, even more offensive to me than the predictability, pointlessness, and utter failure at creating tension, is that the Love Triangle is just unrealistic. It’s lazy. And it’s actually pretty insulting, especially to YA readers. We know who we would pick, so why is the protagonist such a shallow, cruel, weak dimwit?
Don’t care. *slams book shut*
2. The Misunderstanding That Could Be Solved With a Single Conversation
Usually goes something like this: Girl sees Boyfriend walking beside another girl across the street. (They are not even holding hands.) Next day, Girl freezes Boyfriend out. No texts, no calls, no explanation.
Girl, I don’t have time for you and your faux drama. Boyfriend is really better off without you if that’s the way you’re going to act.
Or how about this: Male Lead of high fantasy novel finds out his Female Lead is stuck in an unwanted-but-arranged marriage, which—due to obvious factors such as time period, societal norms, and family politics—is completely understandable, but he still accuses Female Lead of betrayal, cowardice, and gold-digging.
Um, Author, you set up this world. You designed it as a medieval realm. You created gender parameters around the Female Lead. You made arranged marriages an accepted practice. Why is your Male Lead throwing 2016 shade?
Nope. *slams book shut*
3. The Misdirected Insta-Thirst for Revenge
Ugh. This one I really just can’t take seriously. And it’s the crux of far too many crime thrillers and graphic novels. This one plays out: Villain murders Mentor, Love Interest, or Family Member, then leaves scene. Best friend enters scene. Hero walks in, merely sees Best Friend standing over the body (wearing a look of horror), and vows REVENGE! upon them.
Call me nitpicky, but I’m pretty sure I would want to… you know, ask questions, investigate, and FIND THE REAL VILLAIN who is not my OBVIOUSLY-A-GOOD-GUY Best Friend?! I would at least ask Best Friend what happened. Did they see anyone? Did they just get there like I did? Have they already called for an ambulance?
If the Hero’s friendship is so tissue-paper-thin that he can believe Best Friend capable of murder, I don’t care if he realizes the truth later. Best Friend should run in the opposite direction from this idiot’s brand of loyalty and consideration.
I can’t even. *slams book closed*
Feat. Photo: mensxp
One thought on “3 Cliches (That Completely Lose Your Reader)”
Ahhh – I’ve had different experiences. The two boys crushing on Katniss were perfectly plausible after my summer at nerd camp, when you’d better believe a small knot of girls crushed simultaneously on one lucky young man. He even married one of them 😉
I think it’s all in the set-up. If it’s just ‘her eyes were such a pretty shade of green’… well, that worked for Scarlett O’Hara during a single picnic. But even she had to break out the dimples and spin a yarn to pay Tara’s taxes. The story was so rich with characters and history that disbelief was easy to suspend for a few pages.