8 Common Cliches of Coming-of-Age Stories

There is a theme which abounds across a number of genres. One in which young men are torn from their farms and thrust into events which will change the course of an age,  young women rise up to fulfill prophecies, and youths are thrown into conflicts where they must fight for their very survival. The settings and characters change, but in each story a once young and immature man or woman is thrown into circumstances which forever alter their lives and thrust them into adulthood. commoncliches

The lines around a coming-of-age story are a bit vague. In them, the main character begins as a youth and reaches adulthood by the end. This can either be the focus of the book or, as in some of my works in progress, merely a result of the character development throughout the story. But, however it’s written, the meaning of adulthood ought to be clearly depicted, not fictionalized as some modern books portray.

Coming-of-age stories are only as compelling and gripping as the plot, characters, and emotions inside it. Though the focus of this article will be on the latter two points, the first one is important because it is the structure around which the character grows. Really, ‘coming-of-age’ is only a sub-theme of the greater character development which should take place throughout any book. [Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated authoress. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, archery, knife throwing, playing with inspirational photos, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She has self-published fairy tale retellings on Amazon and is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about Hope and her work on her website as well as links to download her first Legends of Light novella for free!

Hard Love: How Shedding Romance Can Highlight Love

Stories follow a familiar pattern because it works. When it comes to character archetypes, we have the Hero, Villain, Mentor, Ally, and Love in just about every story. Usually, the weakest of these is the Love.  This is because in an adventure novel, the main story goal is not to “get the girl” (or boy as the case may be), which means your Love character will become the object of a subplot. This leaves less time available for pursuing the Love. Less time for the Hero to be rejected, overcome the rejections, and eventually win the Love. hardlovepost

As a result, romantic subplots usually feel unsatisfying because we get the sense that winning the girl (or boy) isn’t as important as defeating the villain. How many movies and books can you think of where obtaining the Love interest was way too easy, and seemed to just be tacked on at the end, like a bonus prize? Throw in some extra-marital romance, perhaps a kiss here and there, and this all adds up to cheapen love, rather than esteem it. Many books and movies bombarded us with the fantasy that “love is all you need”, but the “love” they speak of is NOT real love. It’s just the glossy icing on the cake, lacking the deep richness that true love actually renders.

“It is love that sustains romance, but our culture would have us believe it is the other way around, and that romance sustains love. We cannot perpetuate this myth in our stories.”

So many stories today want to pitch us the easy, cheap, and “free” kind of love which is just an imitation, a vapor that doesn’t last when divorced from its foundation, a foundation based on sacrifice; hard love.

For most young writers, I think they would be better off leaving out a Love subplot altogether. Pulling off a real, meaningful Love subplot that esteems the real deal is a difficult task. On top of that, it’s hard to write appropriate, believable, and positive examples of romance into your story. Even if your characters are married, for young writers, it can be difficult to pull this off.

However , this does not mean we should abandon love. We need stories that show what we are missing. We need stories with hard love. Therefore, for beginning writers, if you want to write a Love subplot, write one that doesn’t include any romance.
[Read more…]

The Challenge of Love: Writing Love

Why does love in so many books or movies get relegated to the narrow confines of romance? Yes, romance is love, though much of what is portrayed nowadays is a very shallow love at best. But there is so much more to love than a love triangle or tangled romance. Love can be deep or shallow, directed towards self or others, portrayed in a godly manner or otherwise. There is so much one can do with love as they create characters and stories, be it the presence of love or its absence.  challengeoflove

The most important love which affects your character’s life is their love for God.

Whether the story takes place in the real world, or in a fantasy one ruled by a Great King, the love (or absence of love) for God molds and shapes the character and his worldview. At one end is a character who loves because of the grace and love given to him, who follows such love by obeying the orders of their God, and who shows the same love to others. On the opposite end is the one who disregards the love of his King, who loves only himself and works only for his own gain.

Of course, between these two, there is a wide range of characters, from those who love but don’t trust, to those who are lukewarm, to those who love greatly but place their love on the wrong object or show it in the wrong ways.

There is always going to be some love somewhere: be it for self, for a child, for a leader, for a nation, or for a god. And that is where fascinating backstories can come into play. What does the character love most above everything in the world? Why does he love? And is the object and reason of his love the greatest there can ever be, or might someone else come to his aid and claim that love for his own? And does the love of one beget more love, as in the case of loving God, or does it cause bitterness and hate further down the road?

The most difficult love in your character’s life will probably be loving their enemy.

[Read more…]

Profile photo of Hope Ann
Hope Ann is a Christian wordsmith, avid reader, and dedicated authoress. Her time is taken up with writing, reading, archery, knife throwing, playing with inspirational photos, helping care for the house and eight younger siblings, and generally enjoying the adventures of life on a small farm at the crossroads of America. She has self-published fairy tale retellings on Amazon and is currently working on several projects including a fantasy novel and futuristic trilogy. You can find out more about Hope and her work on her website as well as links to download her first Legends of Light novella for free!

10 Romance Cliches to Boycott

Romance. Generally, a genre I choose to steer clear of. Always. Which can occasionally put me in an awkward situation. Being a girl and all. I am just more of an action girl. It has always been my favorite. But I hear the word ‘romance’ and wince.  I have nothing against those who love writing romance fiction; it is simply not my strong point. (Believe me, I tried. Don’t ask about it. It was ugly.)romaticclichespost

Besides all this, I do appreciate some romance fiction; properly executed, I really love it. My favorite romance author is Francine Rivers. She is fantastic with the unexpected. I never know what direction the story is going to take, she keeps me guessing the whole time. I highly recommend her Mark of the Lion series.

Part of the reason I dislike a lot of romance is because of the way many writers handle it. So, I have compiled a little list of clichés and pitfalls in romance fiction. A lot of these I learned from experience when I attempted a romance.

1. Perfect guy falls for boring girl

The biggest cliche of all romance fiction. I am guilty of using this method in one of my stories. The nobody girl, struggling in life, not confident with her body, meets the hot, handsome, and successful guy who magically has interest in her over tons of other hot girls. Practically everyone has had this idea roll through their head while considering romance in a story. It’s pretty typical. Awfully typical. This ties in with my next point.

2. The perfect guy

This one is the worst. It is all over the place. The guy has the absolute perfect body, great career path, and is fantastic at everything. But then, sometimes you have the counterpart, which can be equally annoying. [Read more…]