If you want to write New York’s next #1 Best Selling Young Adult Novel (how hard is it, really?) follow these handy suggestions and you will have a sure-fire way to launch your name to the literary Grammys:
Rule #1: “Winning the Genetic Lottery”. You are not creating your average Jane or Jess or Julie. She must have impossible mutations that result in violet eyes that constantly glow as she bats her incredibly long eyelashes over a love interest, majestic flowing golden hair, or alabaster skin because you are Michelangelo sculpting the David. She has to be tall, slender, and walk as if she is a soft, supple willow tree waving in the wind. If she’s not blessed possessing an ideal height of 5’8”, she has to be the size of a fairy with pixie-like features and large, irresistible sparkling eyes. No one in nature can have the same indescribable beauty as your character, not even Kendall Jenner and Harry Style’s fictional lovechild. This rule will be in a constant struggle with Rule #2 as you have to reinforce the idea of your character’s flawless physique while keeping her character as pure and simple as a Disney princess.
Rule #2: “Her Insides Are What Count!” Despite your heroine’s flawlessness, you must make her down-to-earth. She has to be the relatable girl-next-door everyone likes. Above all, she has to be completely unaware of her own beauty because no one likes a pretty girl who knows it, right? Along the way, you should reveal a quirk about your character. Have her be a piano prodigy without ever mentioning the grueling hours spent practicing. Alternatively, have her read the classics because no one likes a beautiful girl who can’t read or, even worse, a chunky, short nerd with chronic acne and an affinity for the written word. When you found out that Bella Swan, from the infamous Twilight trilogy by Stephenie Meyer, a girl with a name as impossible as her features, reads the most stereotypical classics (Pride and Prejudice, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, etc.), didn’t you feel an immediate connection to her? How touching was it to read The Fault in Our Stars by John Green starring Hazel Lancaster, a sixteen-year old girl who still had an interest in education and took classes at the community college despite her cancer? These quirks have to be completely foreign to your teenage girl audience because none of them can be passionate about music, literature, or learning while busy doodling hearts and writing “Mrs. Edward Cullen” on their notes. The perfect female heroine must be what every girl wants to be, but what every girl can never become.
Rule #3: “The Golden Trio: the Awful Good Guy, the Perfect Bad Boy, and the Sweaty Romantic”. Among the hordes of men clamoring for the affections of your masterpiece, a side effect of being , there are three guys built along these lines: the classic blond with blue-eyes who does everything right and, in the process, becomes a pretentious, sanctimonious jerk; the leather-jacket-wearing, convertible-driving, cigarette-smoking rebel your heroine can convert, and the forgettable one with puppy-abandoned-on-the-side-of-the-road eyes. For example, take Twilight: we have Jacob Black, the good boy and the clear winner; Edward Cullen, a tortured soul Bella can’t help turn into a good guy; and the sideshow of Mike Newton, boring, predictable, and without any inhuman abilities. In order to execute this rule flawlessly, you must take it in a refreshing direction. When your heroine finds out about her several admirers, she has two options: go into complete denial and cry out, “Why me? I’m not special!”, as her lovers duke it out in the cafeteria, or dismiss her men with a wave of her porcelain hand and proclaim, “We are just friends!”
Rule #4: “Rapunzel in her Fortress of Solitude”. Despite your heroine’s dazzling looks and charming nature, she cannot have any close female friends. We all know that a group of giggling, blushing, gossiping teenage girls is a literary deadend. No one wants to read about something so commonplace that it could be based on their own life. Instead, she must transcend high school hierarchy through her disinterestedness and be the subject of conversation by popular, shallow ditzes who conceal their jealousy behind hurtful jabs. Let’s take three female protagonists from very well known YA books: Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Games, Bella Swan from Twilight, and Hazel Lancaster from The Fault in Our Stars. Now try to recall a single close friend of theirs that was not a family member or a guy. Having trouble? That’s because this method works. If you don’t know what to have your character do with all her free time now that she is not mooning over guys and clucking with her girlfriends, look to Rule #2 to see how to create a hobby that wows!
So there you have it! It only takes four simple rules to captivate your audience and ensure success. Don’t worry about improving your mediocre writing abilities or your lack of knowledge over the subject. If you run into trouble, simply take the words of previous works and your audience will be none the wiser to your trite, cliché language beaten flat into submission like ill-fitting jigsaw pieces, for who are you kidding? They’re teenage girls.