Recently I have been seeing a few blog posts and tweets about people complaining about “over-used clichés and tropes” in novels, and particularly in Young Adult (YA) novels. “Romance” is the one that seems to get people the most riled up. They say it almost as if it is a dirty word, something people need to stay far away from. It seems to really bother them that romance is such a big part of these stories. (If you want to read more about why clichés are so important in novels, read this article too!)
So I may be voicing an unpopular opinion here, but as a sucker for a good romance story (even, and perhaps especially when it’s not the main focus of the book), I decided to speak up in defense, and explain here why, to me, romance is so important in YA novels.
Knowing your target market
First of all, when your target audience is young adult, you should recognize that you need to write about what is important to them as an audience, not to you as an author (this is true for every audience, incidentally).
You should ask yourself about what your potential readers want to read. What are they worried about? What preoccupies them?
In this age group, your readers will very often be preoccupied with thir place in the world, newfound responsibilities (which is also why these elements are very present in YA novels) and, of course, love.
It may bother you as an author, you may be thinking “but I wasn’t dating all throughout high school, so I’m sure there are a ton of people who don’t want to read about romance”.
And you may be right; I’m sure there are some people who don’t want to read about it. But chances are it’s not a majority. Think about high school; was it the majority of kids who didn’t care about dating? Or was it perhaps just a few? I think if you think about it, you’ll find that it was probably a minority who didn’t care about it. The rest were happily worrying about how to dress to impress this guy, or what to say to ask this girl out.
And once again, it may bother you, but it’s such a vital part of becoming an adult.
BEcoming an adult
Teens are learning how to interract with their love-interest, and what better way then through a book they love? When you read a book as a teenager, and the hero(in) has the same worries you do, it validates them. When they get nervous the same way you do, when their hands get sweaty and their hearts start beating frantically, it validates your reactions too.
Reading a YA novel with a romance in it is like getting advice from a friend, from a peer, without being worried of being judged or laughed at.
It’s a beautiful thing to empower our young ones through our stories.
And this isn’t to say that the minority, people who don’t want to read about romance, shouldn’t be catered to. By all means, if you don’t like romance, write a book without it! But if this is the case, you can’t be disappionted when it doesn’t do as well as YA with romance.
The simple fact is that you are not writing what a majority of people want to read. And once again, this is 100% fine! But don’t get all huffy and puffy because your book isn’t selling as well as you’d hoped; you’re not writing to the market.
Writing to the market
If you want your books to sell, then you, as an author, have to write to the market (write what readers want to read). The market will never adapt to you; that’s just a fact of life, not only for writing but for every single venture, no matter what you’re trying to sell. If you’re interested in reading more on this subject, then I recommend reading an article from Derek Murphy here, very eye-opening!
And I can already hear you guys saying: “but I don’t want to sell out, I write for myself, I don’t
Once again, 100% fine. But I personnally don’t see it as selling out. If your purpose is to make your message heard, which would you prefer? To get your message in front of 10 people, or in front of 1000? Writing to market can do exactly that.
If that’s not what you’re after, then this will not be an issue. I understand that authors can be disappointed that what sells is something that doesn’t appeal to them personally, but that’s the whole issue. They take it personally when it really has nothing to do with them or their personal choices or preferences.
It’s the market that matters. Hard lesson to learn for all authors, and for all business people in general. So buck up, and stop complaining (yes I’m being harsh, but I felt like it needed to be heard). Read more about why clichés are so important in stories here.
If you found value in this article, then please comment and share, it would really help a lot!!
How do you like romance in novels?
What about you? What are your views on clichés and tropes? Seen them all? Let me know in the comments!
Take care, and keep writing my friends 🙂