Since Kate and I began working together last spring, she has generously included me in the query process by allowing me to help her go through the queries she receives. After reading hundreds, even thousands, of them I find it fascinating how many trends surface and how they seem to happen in waves.
In the last few months I’ve noticed an influx of books about mermaids, pirates, and especially guardians. There have been guardian angels, otherworldly creatures, animals, and even normal people. The word guardian shows up in a surprising number of titles. There are also an awful lot of characters with dead or missing parents, and I mean a whole lot. I would go so far as to say that 80% or more of the YA queries I read begin with dead parents. As you might imagine, many of these orphaned characters discover that they have a guardian of some sort. This isn’t necessarily something new; it’s just interesting how prevalent it continues to be.
Another shockingly high number that might be of interest, is the amount of stories that begin with a prologue, a character waking up from a dream, or both. Kate has mentioned on several occasions that this gets really old, really fast and I agree. We see this so much that it becomes difficult to get past. Even if the rest of the story is phenomenal, the redundancy of it puts a damper on the whole thing.
Two little details that have stood out to me lately are the popularity of the name Emma and the description of overly glossed lips. The latter sounds strange, I know, but I’ve seen it so many times recently that (obviously) it really stuck in my memory.
Of course, this is just my opinion. I’m curious to hear what redundancies you have found while reading, or even writing, recently. I can’t imagine how hard it must be to come up with a truly unique idea, let alone doing it while avoiding common pitfalls. How do you brilliant writers do it? I must know.
Intern Jenny is an invaluable help around here. She tweets at @internjenny1, and loves your books as much as I do.