Discussion Post: Parents in YA

There’s a recurring joke in the YA world that all parents in books are either

  • A) Dead
  • B) nonexistent
  • And when they do exist, they’re awful

There honestly is a lack of good parents in YA—a lack, even, of parents at all.

Out of this, a lot of bloggers often call for more good parents in YA. I understand the idea behind this: if reading is supposed to be an escape, then giving young adults a world in which parents are kind and supportive is an important responsibility of YA.

That being said, I also want to see more bad parents in YA.

The point, I think, of having good parents in YA is to give teenagers with awful ones an escape. Those books show teenagers what encouragement and love feels like and gives them positive voices to listen to when the real ones are negative.

However, reading should not just offer an escape from reality, but sometimes confront reality. This reminds people that others have survived what you are living through.

Here is the problem: the same way that YA has basically no parents, it also seems to have only a few types of bad parents. There are the parents who have fallen out of touch with their teens as they grew up, the parents who flat-out ignore their children, the parents who fail to recognize or accept their children for who they are.

But they have one thing in common:

At some point, there is a conversation and/or realization that brings the kid and the parent together, ending in understanding and forgiveness.

That relationship evolution is based in the idea that no parents are so blind or rooted in their beliefs that they could face their child in a moment of honesty and not fix themselves. It is based in the idea that teenagers and parents just don’t “work”—until they have breakfast together, cry it out, and reconnect. It is based in the idea that no parent is unforgivable, unfixable.

I’ve had a lot of friends, with a lot of parents who screwed them up in different ways. Parents who

  • Taught their children strict body image ideals that permanently made them to value being skinny over being healthy
  • Ignored their child’s depression, even when the child point-blank told them how they felt
  • Ignored their child’s attempt to speak about abuse
  • Decided their child was a chronic liar instead of listening to them recount problems they faced
  • Made their child fear the imperfection of an A- (let alone a B) so palpably that the child chose to value studying over taking care of their physical and emotional well-being

Parents who were more than clueless, more than out of touch. Parents who continued their behavior after confrontation.

Parents who honestly, I won’t forgive.

I am not saying that this applies to every bad parent in YA. They are not all bad in the same way, nor are they all forgiven. They aren’t. But it feels like there is a strong trend in favor of acting like parents making their children feel like shit was just a misunderstanding. And I’m not okay with that.

At best, it isolates teenagers. It takes a story that could be a beacon of hope—this character lived in the same situation but survived like this—and turns it into a “whoops, just kidding, you’re on your own.”

At worst, it gaslights teenagers into blaming themselves for their parents choices by making them believe their parents would be kind if they could just have the right conversation. This might sound like a far-fetched idea, but a lot of the teenagers I know have tried to talk to their parents about their issues, and it didn’t work. Not all of them, of course, but there are more than the two options: silence and forgiveness.

Young adult literature is complex. It cannot be defined by one trend or cliche. It has fluffy romances and heart-wrenching plots in both fantasies and contemporaries. YA has something for everyone to connect to. It gives readers things to laugh about and things to cry about. It helps us escape reality, and it gives us the tools we need to confront reality. The multitudes of YA are what makes it so incredible. 

I do not want every book published to have awful parents. I do not want every awful parent to end un-forgiven. What I do want is a YA that presents all types of parents, even the ones we would like to pretend don’t exist. 


What do you think? Was this post relatable? Are there any books you can recommend that break the forgiveness model?

Six Things College App Essays Taught Me About Writing

I just finished all of my college apps!!! *screams with joy for hours*

john-stewart-happy

And while it was a horrifyingly stressful and (sometimes) tedious process, it did teach me some things about writing and myself as a writer.

1. How to write something that doesn’t rely on dialogue. Or sarcasm.

In my fiction writing, I rely on dialogue and sarcasm. College app essays weren’t really the place for that style writing, so it was an adjustment. Trying to find a tone that conveyed my personality without making me sound like a bitch was something that I’m proud I accomplished.

2. Just how many “voices” I have, outside the ones I already knew about.

This goes with the one before, but as I wrote more and more essays, I started to develop new writing voices. I still prefer my fiction/journalism ones, but I like that I discovered others.

3. How to be done with something. And actually be done.

I have been writing fiction for years, but I have never really finished something. I have reached the end of pieces, and edited pieces, but I have never really felt done. With college app essays, I had to write, edit, and turn it in. This was incredibly stressful at the beginning, but it also feels awesome to be actually done.

4. Kill Your Darlings is actually really good advice.

I have heard the classic writing advice “Kill Your Darlings” for a while, but college app essays were the first time I really had to use it. And damn, it works. I can’t tell you how many essays clicked into place when I got rid of a favorite sentence, metaphor, or idea.

5. How to write, even when I don’t want to.

My WIP started to teach me this over summer, but it was writing essays for college apps that finally drove home this lesson. Although I still occasionally give in to writer’s block, I am now able to get myself to sit down and write, even if I don’t feel “inspired.”

6. Word counts are the worst, but only sometimes.

This was my first real encounter with word counts, and it was rough. Of the hours I spent working on these essays, only half the time was writing. The other half was spent editing them down to the right word count.

But I also started to appreciate word counts for the direction they gave me. I knew how far to go with an essay based on the word count. Without them, I don’t know if I would have edited my essays as thoroughly. So I guess word counts aren’t the worst.


What do you think? Was this post interesting for you? Have you applied/are you applying to colleges, and if so, what was it like for you?

The True Meaning of 5/5 Stars: A Closer Look at My Rating System

Like basically every book blogger, when I write a book review, I include a number rating (out of 5) to indicate holistically what I thought. And like basically every book blogger that does that, I have a page on my blog that lays out just what each rating means. (Here, if you’re interested.)

And yet, lately, when I’m writing reviews, I have felt like I need to clarify my rating system. And since I’m a blogger who sucks at coming up with original post ideas, I decided that I could clarify how I choose my ratings with a discussion post.

So, what do I think you need to know about my rating system that isn’t abundantly obvious?

It comes down to this: I rate a book based on if I think it fulfilled its potential. This means that two books can both get 5/5 stars, while one can be waaaaayyy more memorable, emotional, and/or “important” than the other.

Why would I do that, you ask?

I look for different things from a fantasy novel than I do a contemporary novel. If I pick up a contemporary romance with a hilarious title and a cutesy cover, I am expecting it to cheer me up, make me laugh, and fill me with romantic butterflies. If I pick up a fantasy with a foreboding title and a dramatic cover, I am expecting it to take over my life with its gripping plot, its creative magic, and its fascinating characters.

I go into some books looking for a pick-me-up. I go into other books looking to be destroyed. Sometimes, all I want from a book is for it to change how I see the world.

Because of this, I feel that I cannot rate all books on the same scale. If I did, the only (or very nearly) books that would earn 5/5 stars would be intensely dramatic, 500-page-long fantasy novels with a dozen characters and twice as many subplots. (I’m looking at you Brandon Sanderson and Sarah J. Maas.)

That isn’t fair for me. If I go into a book looking for a cheery romantic story, and that book delivers a cheery romantic story and commented on a few of society’s flaws, then that book earned 5 stars. 

At the same time, if I go into a book expecting it to have deep characters, plots, and world-building, and it doesn’t deliver, then that book probably gets at most 3 stars, even if it was a pretty good story. 

So, how does a book earn 5 stars?

There is obviously no easy formula. My expectations, the genre, and the story itself set the criteria for the ranking. However, I would say that all books I give five stars have a few key things in common:

  • They talk about society’s flaws. 
  • Their plot is complex. Bring on the subplots.
  • The characters feel alive and realistic, and they grow over the course of the story.
  • The writing is strong and complements the series.
  • The story’s society—whether that is a make-believe world or a high school—is complex and nuanced.
  • The story evokes specific emotions in me, no matter what mood I was in before I started reading.

So what do you think? Do you rate all of your books on the same scale? Do you agree with my rating system, or do you think it is unfair? 

How Complex Should Side Characters Be?

I used to think that every book needed a few side characters that were flat, i.e. mostly one-dimensional, without a lot of backstory, existing just to bolster certain scenes.

But recently I have read a lot of books with complex, nuanced side characters. Characters that have their own identities and their own stories, even though they aren’t the protagonist. These books have made me rethink my belief that stories benefit from flat characters.

To be clear, this post is talking about side characters. Not the protagonist, not the love interest. The best friend, the side kick, the quest buddy, the girl you sass in the hallway at school. Some authors leave them simply described, embodying just a few key characteristics, while others spend time ensuring that every character in their story has deeper motivations and backstory that explains them. So…which is better?

side characters flat 2

Comic relief.

Flat characters make wonderful jokes. They are free to exist simply as the Idiot, the Class Clown, the Drama Queen, or whatever other role they fill in the story. They will not win any awards for creativity, but they can help inject some humor into a story without weighing it down with extra details.

A little bit of realism.

We do not know the deep desires and secrets of everyone we interact with, even if they are important in our lives. Sometimes—at least for me—I see a person largely as one characteristic, mainly because they play one distinct role in my life. They are important in that role, but to try to shove an extra subplot into my story surrounding them wouldn’t really make sense.

Sometimes, I don’t care about your backstory.

I think the reason that I initially preferred flat side characters over round ones is that I read a lot of books that weren’t done well. Backstory and subplots can really strengthen a book (more on that later), but when they are done badly, they can make a story feel choppy and overdone. If there isn’t a reason for me to care about the protagonist’s sister’s darkest secret, don’t waste time telling me about it.

side characters round 2

They kill stereotypes.

Flat characters often exist only to embody stereotypes. That can add humor to a story (see #1 above), but it can also hold a story back. When authors take the opportunity to flesh out side characters—pushing past their original defining characteristic—their stories stop relying on stereotypes and really come to life.

They are opportunities for more diversity.

I want books with racially and sexually diverse protagonists, but I also want stories with white/cis protagonists to have diverse side characters. But to add in side characters that are diverse on paper but that are never explored in the story does absolutely nothing. In this case, rounder side characters are a must.

More bang for your buck—you get multiple stories in one book.

This one is pretty obvious. Why would you want to read one person’s story when you can read three or four people’s stories? It’s the reason readers enjoy stories with more than one POV, and it is the reason stories with round characters are often more interesting than ones with flat characters.

Complex stories are more captivating them simple stories (often).

Assuming that the story is written well, I like stories that have more than one layer, that talk about more than one thing, that explore lots of different sides of human nature. When side characters are left flat, this is less likely to happen, and I find myself less entranced by stories.


Right now, I am siding with round side characters. Who knows what I’ll think in another year.

What do you think? What are your favorite books with flat/round side characters?

Breaking Down the Trilogy: Book Three, or The Book With All the Feels

Like trilogies, we’re on the third and (hopefully) best part of this series. For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been discussing trilogies, taking a look at each book as a stage of the series.

You can see what I said about Book One and Book Two by clicking on each title. 🙂

Today’s focus is:

Part Three: Book Three, the Book with All the Feels

what i look for b3

Book Three is the most straightforward for me: I want closure and drama. I want to feel like the story has built to an awesome climax, and then I want to feel like the story is over.

Characters should have developed from the beginning of the story, and the plot should show off their new strengths and values. Even newer characters in the story should feel familiar and beloved by this point.

Conflicts that have been simmering should boil over—and in some way be resolved. Bonus points if any of those conflicts seemed separate but turn out to be connected in some appropriately mind-blowing way.

I want lots of romantic fireworks, if it is that kind of series. If there is a love triangle, one person should clearly “win” and it would be great if we got some cute scenes between them and the MC. A cute epilogue that hints at an adorable future for the two love interests is to die for.

And of course, I want LOTS OF FEELS. I expect a little bit of heartbreak, a lot of fangirling, and possibly some tears (happy and sad).

things that disappoint b3

Though I want lots of drama, I don’t want the drama to be senseless. It should be a continuation and a culmination of what the other books have been laying the groundwork for.

For me, at least, I would rather have a moderately dramatic ending that nicely ties together plot lines from the series and leads to an overall resolution than a massive, heart-racing, tear-inducing ending that prioritizes drama over ending the book on an appropriate note.

Sometimes, with the really dramatic climaxes that Book Threes feature, there is so much going on that I lose track of the story. This sucks. Part of it is my fault (I like to read quickly, and I sometimes miss details like where each character is) but part of it is the fault of the story. Drama is good, but understanding the drama is also important. I care a lot more when I know what’s going on.

Also, though I expect the characters to develop a lot during the final book, I want those changes to make sense, and to still happen at a realistic pace. When characters sudden shuck off their previous persona and step into their role as the Hero of the Story in the last book, it often feels fake.

Slower paced, explicable changes that are clearly rooted in the series are what I enjoy. Of course, I want the protagonist to have conquered her demons and developed into a heroic person by the end of the trilogy, but I want to understand how it happened, which for me, means gradual changes.


What do you think?

Do you love the drama, or wish that authors would tone it down?

Which book in a trilogy is your favorite to read usually?

Breaking Down the Trilogy: Book Two, Or Where It Usually Falls Apart

Welcome to the second installment of my discussion post series Breaking Down the Trilogy! I’ve already looked at the quirks of Book One, so today I’m looking at…

Part Two: Book Two

This is, I think, the hardest book in a trilogy to get right. One and Three usually have clear purposes (The Introduction and The Conflict’s Culmination, to put it simply), but Two is a strange bridge between the two that often gets lost.

As always, these are just my opinions. If you disagree, comment! This is a discussion post! It is supposed to start a conversation!

what i look for b2

It’s own plot: This is a must for me. Just because Book Three will probably have the most important climaxes and conflict resolutions does not mean that book two is allowed to have no plot of its own. Book Two needs to do more than raise the stakes for Book Three.

The same “feel” of Book One: I hate it when I pick up the second book in a trilogy and it suddenly has a completely different focus, feeling, and tone as the first book. I don’t like surprises; if I liked Book One enough to pick up Book Two, I better get what I ordered—that is, more of what I loved in Book One. Of course the story should develop, but I should still be able to recognize the story at the end of the second book.

Lots of development: Characters and conflicts have to develop in Book Two. I like seeing new characters or new plot lines introduced that push new buttons in existing characters. I like it when allegiances get complicated and change. If you’re going to spend an entire book with the characters, things need to be shaken up.

Build to Book Three (without overpowering Book Two): Of course, the most powerful book in a trilogy is usually the third one. That’s where the plot that links all three books together gets resolved, often with a war (just saying). Because of this, Book Two should build toward Book Three. Though it has its own plot, I want to feel like I’m on the ride up on a roller coaster, where Book Three is the crazy drop.

A Little Love Triangle Drama: If there is a love triangle, I’m okay with some drama in Book Two. Maybe we see a different side of the love interest we’d written off. Maybe the love interest that “won” in Book One turns out to be an asshole under the new circumstances of the second book. Again, the love triangle developing shouldn’t be the only plot that the second book has, but it can definitely be a subplot.

cant stand b2

When it is just Book Three’s exposition: I’ve already touched on this a lot, but Book Two should be able to stand on its own. It brings the reader to Book Three, but it has to be more than a trailer for Book Three. So often, I see trilogies have a strong first book that has its own plot, and then books two and three are just one long plot line—which gets really old, really fast.

When it completely breaks with Book One: I already talked about how much I need Book Two to continue the things I loved about Book One. On this note, I absolutely hate it when I pick up Book Two and I can barely recognize the story that started in the first book.

When the romance from Book One is destroyed for no reason: So many ships sink during Book Two! Sometimes this is because of a love triangle, sometimes just a misunderstanding. And while I appreciate relationships being dynamic and developing, I hate it when it feels like characters only broke up in Book Two so that they could get back together at an appropriate moment in Book Three.

When it exists only so that Book Three can be hella dramatic: So often it feels like Book Two is just characters stumbling through a minefield, detonating various bombs for Book Three to deal with. Characters broke up! Someone has a secret agenda! The plan went awry! And you’ll see the resolution after the break…that is, in the next book.

Book Three should be dramatic. It’s the end of a series! But Book Two needs to have its own, self-contained drama. At least, that’s my two cents.


What do you think? Do you agree? What pitfalls or successes have you seen in Book Twos that you’ve read?

Breaking Down the Trilogy: Book One, Or Where It All Starts

Hey guys! I’ve wanted to do a discussion post about trilogies for a while, but I haven’t been able to figure out what to focus on. So I decided to skip trying to condense my rambles, and I am instead doing a series of three blog posts (you might even say a trilogy) about trilogies, with each post looking at one of the books in a trilogy.

Today’s topic is: The First Book

These books are usually the most straightforward. They set up the world, introduce us to the characters, start some short range and long range conflicts, and leave us with enough of a cliffhanger ending that we want to read books two and three. Simple, right?

Not always.

what i look for b1

Have your own plot: This one is simple. Book One is also a book. It needs to—in my opinion—be able to stand on its own, at least mostly. It should have its own plot within the overarching series’ plot.

Make me want to keep reading (without gimmicks): Anyone can write a cliffhanger. What a great Book Ones does is write a story so well, and end it at exactly the right moment, so that I want to keep reading naturally, not because the author set off emotional fireworks in the last chapter.

A balance of drama and development: A lot of trilogies end up being action-packed. The format attracts faster-paced genres, and the format allows for intense stories with a ton of conflicts. I love this, but I don’t want the first book to be one giant fight scene. There should be breathing room, scenes where I get to relax and focus on the details like characters and world building. Every book needs this, in my opinion, but especially the beginning of a series.

get right b1

Introducing characters: This something that most trilogies—or rather, most books—are able to do. As long as the author is good, I find that I rarely have problems with the characters in a trilogy, at least not in the first book.

Setting the Stage: Most Book Ones give the reader a sense of what the series will be like. How will it be paced? What will the writing be like? What will the mood of the book be? What will the book talk about?

As a person who likes to know what I’m getting into, I love this. For me, trilogies should be a continuation of a theme, not a disjointed mess of themes, tones, and styles. I love it when Book Ones set the stage well for the series.

common mistakes b1

Clunky world building: Since it’s the beginning of a new series, there has to be some world building. Because most trilogies are fantasy, paranormal, or dystopian, and because the world has to be complex enough to support three books, this world building is rarely simple.

Complex world building is something I’ll never complain about—as long as it is done well. The problem is, in a rush to get the exposition out of the way so that the action can start, Book Ones often leave the world building wanting.

And this is a problem. If I don’t understand the politics/magic/caste system of your world, I probably don’t care about the conflicts they cause.

The lid fell off the jar of love triangle sprinkles: I don’t hate love triangles wholesale. Especially for trilogies, they are a way to keep the romantic spark alive for three books, to add conflict, and to keep the characters interesting.

But Book One needs to do more than introduce two love interests and throw down the gauntlet. Maybe by the end of the series the love triangle can come to the forefront of the plot, but in the beginning, when everything is new? Yeah, I want some real plot, not just Instalove and dramatic gestures.

Too big of a CLIFFHANGER: Do you feel THE DRAMA? The SUSPENSE? No???!!! Are the all caps and excessive punctuation marks not enough?!

Okay, that’s a bit ridiculous, but this is sometimes how I feel at the end of Book Ones. The author is so desperate to get you to read the second book that they detonate a massive plot bomb on the last pages, shattering your heart and forcing you to read the next book.

Sometimes, I am willing to forgive this because the cliffhanger was so good. (The Wrath and the Dawn, I’m looking at you.) But most of the time, I’m just annoyed, and a lot of the time, I won’t continue the series.

pet peeves b1

It’s just a ton of exposition: Just because Book One sets up the rest of the trilogy doesn’t mean that it gets a free pass to be all exposition and no plot. So many Book Ones feel like they exist only so that later books can come out.

I’m fine if an author knows that their story will be a trilogy and makes sure that the first book is a solid foundation. But as I mentioned before, I want the first book to have its own plot, and sometimes authors just don’t do that. Which sucks, in my opinion.

“We Get it Already,” AKA obvious plot lines: Trilogies make good story arcs, but they also make repetitive plots common. These days, I basically expect the first book in a fantasy or dystopian series to start out with a few characters and a simple goal, and by the end, the goal has started some massive chain of events rolling (creating the second and third books). This is a good template the first few times you read it, but I’m dying for some originality by now.


What do you think? Do we have the same pet peeves? How do you feel about first books in trilogies?

Why I Love Broken Spines and Crinkled Pages

Before you start yelling–yes, I know, that was a controversial title, but bear with me.

Recently, Ava @ Bookishness and Tea had a post on her blog where she wondered if being a book blogger has made her shallow. Basically, before becoming a book blogger, she didn’t care what her books looked like, but now that she is incredibly protective of her books’ physical appearances, sometimes to a ridiculous extent.

I connected with a lot of the things she said. I love having my bookshelves look pristine. I love it when I get a new copy of a book and it is perfect, and I’ve gotten angry when books I’ve ordered come less-than perfect, even if they are still in pretty good shape. I never read books with the dusk jacket on because I want it to stay safe  so that it will be forever gorgeous on my shelf.

However, I also love it when my books get worn out. I actually pride some of my favorite books in being so worn that you can barely read the spines. Which got me thinking…

Why do I simultaneously love perfect and well-worn books?

Loving perfect books is simpler to understand, so I’ll start with that one. This applies to hardcover books more often for me, because it is actually possible to keep dusk jackets pristine (basically, never let them leave the house). Hardcover books in shiny dusk jackets are gorgeous–I think all of us can agree. They photograph well, look cohesive when they are a part of a series, and give bookshelves an air of “aren’t you jealous of how pretty I am.”

My gorgeous TOG books (which for some reason don't include TOG itself)
My gorgeous TOG books (which for some reason don’t include TOG itself)

Sometimes I try to keep books in pristine condition because I know that they will be important to me. If I can tell that I love a book from the beginning pages, or if it is part of a beloved series, I am more likely to take care of it as I read it. I’ll have visceral reactions to getting food smudges on pages or accidentally crumpling pages. It is a way to show respect for the book, to keep it in good condition.

However, I cannot keep all of books in perfect condition. I read in the morning while I eat breakfast, so there are some crumbs/smudges on my pages. I’ve never been one to dog-ear pages or write in books, but my books do get crammed in my backpack, under my lunchbox and pummeled by the constant in-and-out of binders and notebooks through my backpack. Paperbacks get their covers bent, some pages get accidentally smeared. And for the most part, this sucks.

these books are in gorgeous condition, right?
these books are in gorgeous condition, right?
wrong... (under the dusk jackets)
wrong… (under the dusk jackets)

However, some of my favorite books–the ones that I should logically want to look perfect–are absolutely destroyed. I’ve considered re-buying them to have nicer copies, but even the idea of replacing these worn-out books freaks me out. I love how worn these books are.

Why?

For me, a book being worn-out means that it has been read over and over. Most of my favorite books have been read by my sister, my mom, my grandmother, and me. I’ve also reread most of these books at least twice, probably three times–and my sister has done the same. The wear doesn’t come from not loving the books or accidents, it comes from love.

these books have been read a LOT
these books have been read a LOT

A book cannot be read upwards of a dozen times without showing it. Spines break. Covers fade. My favorite book even has a page that has completely fallen out and is tucked into the right place like a bookmark.

wpid-20151124_115825.jpg
whoops…

Then there are the intentional marks: favorite quotes underlined, favorite scenes bookmarked with Post-It notes. Happy faces and hearts penciled into margins. Little details you missed the first time you read it discovered the second and marked for the third.

In these crumpled pages and broken spines are signs that these books have been loved, not just by me, but by my entire family. There is history trapped in these books, and to replace them in the name of cleanliness would destroy that history. When I see these worn-out books, I smile, because they make me remember just how much I’ve loved them throughout the years.

So yes, if I buy a book today, I want it to be perfect. I want it to stand proudly on my bookshelf. I’ll be angry if the pages get smashed or if the dusk jacket gets bent.

But if in five years that book has been read so many times that its pages are marked with love and its spine is broken, I’ll also be happy. I’ll be proud. And don’t you dare take it away from me.


What do you think? Are any of your beloved books worn out? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

The Seven Writing Styles in YA, and What’s To Love (Or Not) About Each

YA authors take a lot of different approaches to writing their stories, and I love them all for it. Though I’m always looking for “good writing,” this un-quantifiable label comes in many shapes and sizes. Here’s a humorous (hopefully) look at the various writing styles I’ve encountered, and what’s to love (or not) about each.

first person teenager

We’re all familiar with this one: there’s nothing especially poetic about the writing style, except that it’s voice is unmistakably teenager-y. Usually, this writing style results in less flashy or quotable prose while maximizing readability and personality. Hot guys are probably fawned over. Best friends are probably wacky and hilarious. Parents very well might suck.

Done well, I love it. Done poorly, it just serves to highlight an author’s weak writing skills and disconnect from the actual lives of teenagers today.

  • Good examples: Gallagher Girls series by Ally Carter, Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
  • Bad example: Aces Up by Lauren Barnholdt

scenery description

The building’s facade is a combination of Gothic and Victorian elements, giving off a judgmental and austere air. Five feet from the building stood a dark gray, slightly rusted telephone pole that dated back to the 1830s…

Freaking shoot me. Honestly, I have a hard time focusing on long scenery descriptions, and even if I do read them, I usually end up visualizing something wrong, and it is confusing later on in the story. I’ve learned to let most scenery descriptions flow over me, getting the mood of the place but ignoring specifics.

I’ll admit, when an author pulls this off, it’s really impressive, and I love them forever.

  • Good example: Mistborn by Brandon Sanderson
  • Bad example: honestly, I rarely finish books that are soporifically scenery-heavy, so no examples come to mind

under the radar

This type of writer uses such a plainspoken voice to tell their story that you don’t even realize how good their writing is until you go back and think about it. I love this type of writer, though their books tend to be less “quotable.”

  • Good examples: Throne of Glass series by Sarah J Maas, Since You’ve Been Gone by Morgan Matson, the Angle Burn series by LA Weatherly

pov lover

You know the type. Every chapter is told from a different point of view. Sometimes it switches between the two protagonists; sometimes it jumps between whatever random characters serve the narrative at that moment. (Personally, I prefer the former and get bored with the latter, usually.) Done well, this is a great way to give insight into more than one character, and it can give a growing romance all the feels. Done poorly, the story feels choppy and badly paced.

  • Good example: The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
  • Weaker example: Heir of Fire by Sarah J Maas (I love the story, but the switching POVs was a bit tiring!), The Diviners by Libba Bray (again, love the overall story, but it was hard to keep track of all the different characters’ plot lines)

accidental poet

This is possibly my favorite writing style. There is nothing flashy or forced about the lyrical quality of their writing–the story just tells itself so gorgeously that the writing becomes poetry. I love these stories because they don’t make a point of being well written, don’t shove it in your face while jumping up and down and yelling LOOK AT ME BEING PRETTY–they just take your breath away. They get an A+ for being quotable, and I’ll catch myself with random sentences of theirs floating through my head days after I’ve finished them.

  • Good examples: Fire by Kristen Cashore, anything by Maggie Stiefvater, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, The Queen’s Thief series by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Bad example: whenever an author is obviously trying to be lyrical and it doesn’t really work, e.g. Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon

hallucinating poet

This is hands down my least favorite writing style. The writing is so lyrical and voice-driven that the story loses touch with reality. There is probably an unreliable narrator involved. There is probably alcohol involved. There are probably some mysterious occurrences that are either paranormal happenings or just drug-induced hallucinations.

These books give me a headache, and I generally finish them feeling very unsatisfied, wondering where the real story was.

  • Bad examples: We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, The Accident Season by Moira Fowley-Doyle

heartbreaker

The kind of book that makes you sob with the power of the story and its writing. I usually love this kind of book, though it’s hard to find them, because I tend to shy away from books I know will make me cry in public.

  • Good examples: Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Love and Other Unknown Variables by Shannon Alexander, The Chaos Walking trilogy by Patrick Ness

What do you think? Do you agree? Are there other types of writing that I missed (probably)?

What is your favorite writing style?