The YA Paranormal Fantasy Formula

This weekend I downloaded a couple indie YA fantasy novels onto my kindle and read them. I enjoyed them. They were well written and kept me interested to the end, where they wrapped up alot of elements but left the reader with a teaser to get them to buy the next in the series.

Here’s a summary of them:

Slightly outcast girl doesn’t realize how pretty and awesome she is. She meet a wildly attractive young man who is kinda arrogant. Even though she’s attracted to him she doesn’t like his attitude and stays away, which makes him seek her out. Weird things start to happen she thinks he may be involved. There is a horrible beautiful snobby girl who is also after his affection and HATES the protagonist irrationally. Then he saves her from something supernatural but she’s angry about it and he’s smug about it. She starts looking for answers and realizes he may be supernatural. And maybe she is too! He starts to actively pursue her but he’s still arrogant and she wants to figure things out on her own even though he makes her feel things she’s never felt before. He opens up to her and she realizes he’s damaged and just needs to be loved and that she is the only one he’s ever loved. His love puts her in danger and she almost dies. He saves her but wants to distance himself from her because he cannot bear for her to be in danger. She finds out she’s special in some way similar or complimentary to him. They can be together. Or maybe there is another roadblock… to be continued…

If you haven’t figured it out, this is a formula made popular by Stephanie Meyer. ALOT of writers use it because it works. Why? Because every teenage girl feels outcast, wishes she was not so aware of her looks or didn’t care about them, feels victimized by snobby beautiful popular girls and just wants the most gorgeous man in the world to be irresistibly in love with her, but also to respect her and know how special she is.

To be completely honest, there is a part of that confused teenage girl still alive in adult women as well, which is why YA paranormal fantasy transcends age groups.

Men should take note.

Many people, writers and otherwise are contemptuous of this formula, of these novels and movies. Many writing sites, editors and agents recommend adhering to this formula because it sells and sells and sells.

So my opinion on it?

Well I read several of these novels over one weekend so…

But my YA fantasy is more on the fairy tale side. My protagonist already knows she’s special. In fact, she needs to be knocked down a few pegs, and she isn’t all that interested in the handsome man she’s thrown together with. Do I want my novel to sell? Hell yes. But I played through this formula in my early years when all my main characters were just versions of myself. Now I’m more interested in exploring and have a hard there’s no real formula for that.


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