Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Things you think are really original that really aren't.

You may think the following things are highly original YA story elements.
You would be wrong.

Here's a partial list from this week's queries:
  • Vampire spelled Vampyre, Wompyre, Vompyre, or any other way (4 this week)
  • Teenage boy/girl discovers s/he has developed a superpower upon hitting puberty; chaos ensues (7 this week)
  • Teenage boy/girl discovers s/he is really an angel; chaos ensues (12 this week)
  • Teenage boy/girl accidentally opens a portal through time; chaos ensues (4 this week)
  • Teenage boy/girl accidentally opens a portal to another dimension/universe/planet; chaos ensues; dimension/universe/planet is saved (3 this week)
  • Teenage boy/girl discovers s/he is gay; crushes on best same-sex friend; comes out to friends and family; chaos ensues; lessons learned by all and sundry (7 this week)
Just thought this was interesting.

Edit to Add: Just to clarify - I'm certainly not saying that these kinds of stories won't sell, just that I am seeing a lot of the same trends. I just find it fascinating. By all means, keep sending it. It's how you tell the story that really matters.

Another trend I'm seeing that I neglected to mention above is the broody, angsty, lovelorn guardian angel, which is now running neck and neck with the broody, angsty, lovelorn vampire. Perhaps if the angels and vampires were, ya know, to get all broody and angsty and lovelorn with each other... (Susan, don't you even think about it. You have enough work to do.)


Joya said...

Vampire spelled Vampyre isn't original, but I think it looks so much cooler with the 'y', lol.

Patrick Nielsen Hayden said...

But you know, any of these stories could be good. Because "originality" doesn't matter anywhere near as much as most people imagine.

S. E. Ward said...

Hahah, this reminds me of my old BBS handle: Vampyro. One of my friends (who was studying Spanish at the time) couldn't stop calling me Vampyra no matter how many times I explained that "pyro" was a separate element.

For the record, the only things I can even remember setting on fire are the wok and a brisket. Long, LONG story behind each.

How the hell does someone discover that they're an angel? Isn't the 30-foot wingspan usually a dead giveaway? "I may have an air speed velocity comparable to an unladen African swallow, but I'm not an angel!"

La Gringa said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
La Gringa said...

(feh! i hate when i make typos and blogger won't let me edit to fix!)

patrick -

i agree; the books could be wonderful. but when the idea is something that has been recycled a lot, the writing has to be absolutely stellar.

susan -

in most of these novels, the kids find out they are angels when they hit puberty and, ya know, the wings. sometimes they are guardian angels who have had their memories erased. i must admit to being surprised by just how many of these there were, however.



Katey said...


Luke Skywalker used to bullseye those in his T-16 back home in Beggar's Canyon. They're not much larger than two meters.

S. E. Ward said...

Hunh. Ya know, that could be done really well. Wouldn't be easy, but if nothing else, I'm sure there's some wonderful comic relief in the Four Horsemen of Angelic Puberty: acne, funny voices, hair where there was no hair before, and those damned wings putting you on the sidelines every time your gym teacher mentions the word "dodgeball."

Oh, crap. Not again. *hurries off to scribble story notes*

Arachne Jericho said...

Wow. My gigantic story arc isn't any of those things. I feel a bit better now.

Wompyre... sounds like what you get after you hit a New Age vampire in the nuts.

Others are:
- total manga staple
- manga staple (sometimes it's demons! but I guess in books it's just angels)
- total manga staple
- total huge manga arc staple
- not any manga I read, as gay relationships tend to be pretty much accepted and used to add more craziness to the usual star-crossed lovers plot. Which are often gay.

There is something to it when people say, "Geez, not another magical girl (or boy) manga", or "Geez, not another manga that involves crossing back to another dimension/time/both". Only you also have, "Geez, not another beautiful gay boys manga".

Anybody turn out to be secretly gods? Although the superpowerz would do it, I guess.

Sarah said...

Have you gotten through the queries from February? If so, I probably need to resend mine.

Rachel said...


Hahah! You could be originally horrible! Horrible like they've never seen before! Pushing the bounds of horrendousity!

Jeff said...

How about a boy who accidentally opens a portal when he comes out as gay vampyre to his superpowered angel friends? The boy then flees through the portal and chaos ensues. Lessons are learned by all.

mroctober said...

Seems like 1/3 of GLBT ya books are of the last variety.

Minion said...

Patrick is right. There is no such thing as originality, going all the way back to Ecclesiastes.

Just creative recycling.

sex scenes at starbucks said...



Nathan said...

La Gringa solicits queries.

Chaos ensues.

JuwBagel said...

So...if a query started something like, "Once Bobby's voice finished changing (to his regret), he woke up and found a letter under his pillow. 'You are a superhero now, and can change into anything you want.' Like any good teenager, he thought that being a vampire would be cool. Too bad he didn't read the fine print: The transformation was one-time use; now he can't change back! How can a transgender vampire finish high school without his secrets being revealed? And when a girl that likes him (much to his displeasure) discovers his secrets, how can he control the chaos that ensues?" would you laugh, cry, delete it, or do some strange combination of two or more of those three?

jsbangs said...

Hooray! My novel falls prey to none of those traps. None of the characters are gay, or vampires, or go to other dimensions. Nonetheless I haven't managed to get much interest in it :P.

I also hate creative misspelling. Sorry to those who use it.

Kimber An said...

Oh, you people are cracking me up this morning!

s.e. - "How the hell does someone discover that they're an angel? Isn't the 30-foot wingspan usually a dead giveaway? "I may have an air speed velocity comparable to an unladen African swallow, but I'm not an angel!"

katie- "Wompyre

Luke Skywalker used to bullseye those in his T-16 back home in Beggar's Canyon. They're not much larger than two meters."

How'd the metric system get to a galaxy far, far away anyway?

Scott said...

Klingons, of course.

What? You thought Captain Kirk would go around spreading the metric system? Not much of a chance of that.

La Gringa said...

Captain Kirk just spreads LURRRRVVVVE!

S. E. Ward said...

La Gringa solicits queries. Chaos ensues.

Thank you, Nathan. :P *mops Squirt from screen*

Shannon said...

What about a gay vampyre who has fallen in love with an angel, opens a portal by reaching puberty, and has to save their family who has fallen into a dangerous universe and developed odd superpowers?

Marissa Doyle said...

Yes, but what else is Captain Kirk spreading?

And "wompyre" sounds like a pile of flaming wombats.

Nathan said...


You're most welcome. ::grin::

Jill Myles said...

This sounds like the Blockbuster anime shelf. *g*

S. E. Ward said...


evilphilip said...

Does anyone remember when Vampires actually... you know... KILLED PEOPLE and DRANK THEIR BLOOD?

I think publishers have forgotten what made the vampire scary in the first place. Steve Niles has brought some of that back to comic books, but it is still a pretty rare thing to see real Vampire-type Vampires in fiction any more.

Unless they are just set pieces for some spandex clad Buffy wannabe.

evilphilip said...

In the "I'm feeling superior" category my first three novels have plots like:

1. Female pilot goes mano e mano with King Zombie
2. Shoppers trapped in a mall come to grips with man-eating sand.
3. Extradimensional virus with delusions of Godhood reshapes world into bizarre Alice in Wonderland tea party.

No Angels, Vampyres or Superpowered teen angst anywhere in the bunch.

*sigh of relief*