3 Cliches (That Completely Lose Your Reader)

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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?

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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?

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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.

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I can’t even. *slams book closed*

 

Feat. Photo: mensxp

The Secret Good News!

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Waiting around to hear back for that rejection you just know is coming can be one of the most painful things you will ever do as a writer.

You worked for this. You sweat for it. Hell, maybe you even bled for it.

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“Yes, paper cuts do count in this industry, thanks very much.”

And then there’s one day when the clouds part and pure, unadulterated Monty Python God-in-the-Heavens sunlight beams down on you… the planets align (literally, in my case), and that rejection… Becomes a yes.

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I’m stoked to announce that my soft sci-fi book has been accepted for publication!

I’m not gonna lie, I may have cried a little (Okay a lot, and my waste bin was full of tissues–don’t judge), after I read through the whole email three times just to make sure I wasn’t fooling myself. And then maybe my husband and I celebrated with a bottle of champagne because

YEAH! I’ve got a book coming out, baby!

I’ll have more updates later on, once I have a better idea of things, but look out for my book to hit shelves in 2017!

*Happy dances out of the room.*

 

Reflections!

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A lot of things have happened for me in the last year. Not all of them great, but some of them pretty wonderful. May 3rd was the anniversary of the day my (now) husband and I officially started dating, waaaaaay back in good ole’ 2011. We celebrated quietly (because one can only have so many anniversaries, I am told, and marriage trumps dating), ate dinner, played GTA 5, and my husband gave me a glorious Sailor Moon figure, because, yes, we really are that much of a geeky couple.

It was, unfortunately, also the day that marked a big sadness in my life: the day I got rear-ended by a–not soccer mom, I was vehemently corrected–woman in her “athletic sport-abled transportation vehicle.” It caused a lot of issues, a lot of pain, and a lot of pure, utter, nonsense. It’s a part of my life I am hoping to put behind me.

Because of these things, May 3rd caused a lot of reflection for me. I will be twenty-eight in a scant few days. If my grandmother were here, she’d tell me I’m only a year away from her favorite age of twenty-nine. When I was little, I actually looked forward to getting to that age so I could tell people the same thing my grandmother told them all the way up until she passed: “I don’t care what my birth certificate says, I’m twenty-nine and holding.” This is the woman whose thick Brooklyn accent I adored to mimic, who always had a electronic gambling game in her purse, a cigarette in her hand, and lipstick on her glass.

It’s amazing the things you think about around birthdays, isn’t it?

These days it doesn’t feel like I have time for anything. Much less for reflection, so the third was an interesting–albeit it bittersweet–period. About a year and a eight months ago, I graduated from college. Half a year after that, I started working as a proofreader. About eight months ago, I got married. Three months ago, I got promoted to editor. About two months ago, I started editing job number two, and hell if my days haven’t just been a whirlwind since then. Working in your industry is great; it’s what you strive for. Of course, the pay doesn’t really cut the mustard some days, and your workload is shit, but the thing is, you adore what you do. And I do. I don’t mind filling my days with editing and my downtimes with video games… but it doesn’t leave much time for my writing stuff.

When I went to school for creative writing, I had grandiose dreams of finishing a couple novels, getting some short stories out, and eventually having a successful editing company of my own. Of course, the real world never works out like a five year plan… and slowly that plan began to look more like fantasy than the novels I read for a living.

(Still, it’s hard to complain. I read books for money and tell them how to make it better!)

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When you can actually fix the misspelled words in a book

I’ve been trying to cram a lot into a very limited amount of time, however, and recently, that meant pushing myself to clean and polish (read: cut 8,000 words out of) a short story of mine, in the hope that I can submit it for publication in an anthology. I’m super stoked, if not perhaps nervous that I’m taking their ‘20,000 words or less rule’ a bit too literally.

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I take word count to heart, thank you very much.

Like all hopefuls, I’m eager to see the acceptance email after working on something so hard, but there’s still the nagging doubt that I’ll be able to do it at all. Editing other people’s work makes me understand how great it is. Editing mine? Not so much.

(Hint to any struggling writers out there: You are probably your own worst critic… so don’t listen to you.)

Maybe the five year plan isn’t working out the way I wanted; maybe my dreams are different now, and maybe a couple got derailed in lieu of more realistic expectations.

That’s okay. Gonna keep at it and hope I hit my mark one day.

Wish me luck! The deadline is June 1st. ;p

‘The Coffin Blind’ Excerpt

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“Is that Gaven?” Ingrid lifted a pale hand to shade her equally pale blue eyes and stared into the setting sun’s light.

Irritated, Elijah only nodded.

“He shouldn’t force the emissaries to act. They’ll just send him to the Farm,” Ingrid said.

Elijah squirmed uncomfortably. He couldn’t let Ingrid know how close he had come to crying. “Should we say something?”

She thought for a moment. “He lost his family today… leave him alone.”

Elijah was grateful for her empathy—a rare trait among a culture where deep emotions were deemed distasteful. The chastisement of Gaven’s actions was nothing more than rote; one of the strange laws they’d followed compliantly since the End nearly thirteen cycles prior.

Elijah often wondered what it had been like before the End, but he couldn’t picture it since he’d been born into the new world. Now, all he had to imagine the lives of his parents and siblings were pictures and remnants. He wondered if it was harder for the others who knew both, or for him not to have known it at all. The way they mentioned it was almost reverential; he was sad he would never understand.

In the village behind them, hushed whispers announced the coming of the emissaries.

At her hip, Ingrid’s hand tightened on the pommel of her short sword, and Elijah followed suit. Did someone already call them? He wondered. After a few minutes of fearful expectation, he forced his hand to unclench.

After all we’ve seen today, Elijah pondered as survivors turned and dissipated into the dark houses of the settlement, maybe they don’t want to cause more pain?

It wouldn’t last, though.

It never did.

The Waiting Game…

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I recently submitted a query, and I’m nervous as hell. 

One of the SCARIEST THINGS about submitting a query is the waiting. I cannot even begin to tell you how long I stared at that word file on my computer before I finally decided to do it and just send it.

Why is querying such a scary thing? Imagine that you are a shy, introverted individual and in groups of people, you tend to get a little panicky.

Now imagine that you’re being forced to put yourself on a pedestal.

They hand you the ladder and you climb on up, and you stand there with an awkward smile on your face explaining all of the reasons that YOU are fantastic and wonderful, and deserve to have a publisher or agent represent you.

(Did I mention that you’re secretly praying that you don’t vomit onto the upturned faces of the people below you?)

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Apparently, I’m not the only one who has this nightmare.

It’s not because I don’t think they’ll like my book—I have every confidence in my book—what I don’t have, however, is confidence that I sold myself.

The thing is, actually getting people to read your work and like it is not the hardest part—the hardest part is convincing them that you deserve the representation MORE than anyone else in their rather large stack of hopefuls. 

When you first realize that you’ve finished your book, you may leap with joy, but you can’t sit back and think that you’re done, because you are far from it. 

You’ll have to write your own professional query/bio letter. In that case, you’ll need to snazz it up as much as possible, and the best thing to do is to look to those who have successfully completed one before.  

MAKE SURE TO DO YOUR HOMEWORK

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Choose the examples that best suit your needs to make the best impression possible. There are different parameters per your genre, the type of material, whether they want physical or electronic submissions, and even what the agency you’re submitting to require as far as formatting goes. You must make certain that you’ve got the correct formatting so that your submission doesn’t immediately end up in the trash bin. 

Terrifying? Yes. Worth it? I guess we’ll have to wait and see.