So in the class I’m taking over at The Loft Literary Center, Breaking the Unwritten Rules in Middle Grade and Young Adult Fiction, we’ve been talking about clichés and tropes, and about all those unwritten rules we might not even realize are holding us back from something original and startling.
We’ve discussed narration and how to balance entertainment with authenticity when writing a middle grade or young adult character. It reminded me of something Kyra said a while back.
One day after school, she mentioned she had something on her “bucket list.” After I got over my internal freak out about my ten-year-old having a bucket list, I asked her what she meant.
Here’s the thing: she’d never heard the phrase “kicking the bucket.” If she saw it in a story (or heard it in a movie) she would probably ask me what it meant if it wasn’t clear from context.
To her (and her friends), a bucket list represented a figurative bucket where they placed all the things that they’d like to do someday.
In Kyra’s case, this list includes:
- being a scientist
- traveling the world
- painting all her pets’ portraits.
So, as writers, we’re told to avoid clichés because they’ve lost their freshness and meaning. But in some cases, all it takes is the next generation to give the old something new.