Things We Don’t See Enough Of

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Things We Don’t See Enough Of

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    Arindown (Gracie)

    I thought it’d be fun to discuss what things we don’t see enough of in books. I can be anything from long-haired cats to plot-twists to the word “slaked”.

    Give me all your opinions.

    Not all those who wander are lost.

    R.M. Archer

    Aside from a handful of things I’d specifically like to see more in YA… *grabs list*

    • Exploration of worldview (with contrast)
    • Trope subversion that supports a Judeo-Christian worldview
    • “I’m with you.”
    • Tight-knit friend groups (bonus points for each member knowing alllll the little things that pester or make their friends happy)
    • Healthy sibling dynamics
    • Healthy family dynamics in general
    • Dysfunctional teams that grow to be functional
    • Teams pushed together by circumstance rather than choice
    • Big brother friends
    • Actual big brothers (especially when seen from the outside; bonus points if it’s the girl they like who’s the outside perspective)
    • Boyfriends/girlfriends “adopting” their SO’s siblings (especially boyfriends)
    • Explorable worlds (i.e. worlds that you can tell extend beyond the book)
    • Strong atmosphere
    • Strong character history (e.g. characters who haven’t seen each other in a while coming back together and the tension or lack thereof being palpable)

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

    R.M. Archer

    I’m certain there are words that I’d love to see used more often, too, but I tend to notice those when I see/hear them and then forget about them again, so I don’t remember what any of them are. XD

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.


    -Healthy sibling and family relationships, as R.M. said.

    -Adopted characters who have a happy and loving relationship with their adoptive family.

    -Male characters who act like males and not like a woman’s ideal of what men should be. I see this a lot in YA. Rosemary Sutcliff and Gary Schmidt write good male characters though.

    -Female characters who don’t feel the need to be kickbutt all the time and can embrace quiet strength.

    -Positive female friendships. Please let the mean girl trope die, and the thing where the female MC only has one male friend. I do not find that realistic at all.

    -HOMESCHOOLED CHARACTERS! (who are not super weird)

    -Diversity where the diversity is not the main plot of the story (e.g., a story about a black character dealing with racism). There’s a place for both stories, but so far we’re really only getting the one.

    -Physically unattractive heroes who stay physically unattractive.

    -Characters who wear glasses and don’t think they’re ugly for it (a major pet peeve of mine as a proud glasses-wearer)

    -Poor characters

    -Sci-fi planets that are not monocultures

    -High fantasy that does not take place in a medieval European inspired world. I am partial to ancient Greece or Rome or indigenous cultures myself.

    -Main characters who don’t feel the need to have a love interest. I’m not a romance fan, but if there is romance, I prefer it being between side characters

    -Quieter fantasy stories where the fate of the world is not necessarily at stake.

    -MALE MAIN CHARACTERS IN YA! I tend to prefer male MCs, but they’re not common in YA.

    -Female characters who have a hard time expressing emotions. (Note: I am one.)

    -Positive, but not idealized, representation of the church and/or religion. Having characters wrestle with their faith, but not leave it. Pointing out the flaws, but also pointing to God.

    Semper ubi sub ubi.

    R.M. Archer

    @sparrowhawke YES. I AGREE WITH SO MANY OF THESE.

    *subtly making notes, plus comparing things to current WIP just for fun*

    Ooh! Another one! The main character already being part of an established relationship when the story starts. The romance isn’t a focal point, it’s just a familiar part of their life.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.



    YES, I agree! And what about later in life romance? Older people can fall in love too!

    And older people going on quests. Why is every Chosen One always a teenager?

    Semper ubi sub ubi.

    R.M. Archer

    Sphinxes are also very cool and underused. Even their name sounds epic. We should write about sphinxes more.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

    R.M. Archer


    Yes! Older heroes, absolutely.

    Fantasy/dystopian/sci-fi author. Mythology nerd. ENFP. Singer.

    Arindown (Gracie)

    @sparrowhawke @r-m-archer

    Ya’ll are so good.🤩

    *doing a mental checklist of how many my stories do or don’t have*

    I think we could see more good sibling relationships. And healthy parent-child relationships.

    I also really want to see more of the “left behind” side of romantic relationships. The friends who are no longer the most important in someone’s life because their bestie fell in love.


    Not all those who wander are lost.


    I definitely love me some good sibling and family dynamics. Though I recommend it with caution, The Hate U Give portrayed an awesome, loving, but very imperfect family. I was not expecting that at all in such a popular YA book and was pleasantly surprised. Probably the best part of the book for me.

    Semper ubi sub ubi.


    Y’all have some amazing points and I agree with so many of them! It seems we all want more healthy family relationships XD

    Here are some of my favorites:

    -Fantasy set in cultures that are not medieval Europe. Like, we have all of history! We have all these times, all these countries, all these amazing things that happened! Why do we always end up reading about the crusades from the English viewpoint?

    -Like Sparrowhawke said, positive female relationships. Not only friendships (Though those are fabulous and super important) but also stuff like Mother-daughter relationships and Grandmother-Granddaughter relationships. Honestly, the cliche that girls are always jealous and dramatic with each other and only behave like reasonable humans when surrounded by guys is one of my greatest pet peeves and I hate it.

    -Friendships with big age gaps. With this, I mean stuff like a grandmotherly old lady practically adopting the teenage girl next door. This could kinda fall into the category of mentor-mentee relationships, but the friendship doesn’t need to be central to the plot.

    -Male-female friendships that don’t turn into relationships and don’t even have an inkling of romance. (Honestly, I’m thinking about Cinder and Thorne. That was amazing, and I loved how Melissa Meyer didn’t turn it into a love triangle instead.)

    -Female characters who care about their appearance and enjoy traditionally feminine things but aren’t shamed for them or regarded as ‘shallow’.

    -Female characters who are less feminine but still appreciate feminine activities and stuff. If I see one more medieval warrior-lady scoffing at embroidery, sewing, and cooking… Like, those activities are what keep the castle and the kingdom running!

    -Relationships that don’t start with instant romantic attraction. I love friendships that develop the entire book/series and it slowly turns into a romance. (IF the characters work together.)

    -Books without romantic subplots. I like a romantic subplot when it’s well done, but don’t shove it in there just because you feel like you have to. (Talking to past-me there.)

    -Disabled and neurodivergent characters. Like, even just as background characters, I love seeing them.

    -Physical diversity. Not only things like skin color, but body shape, height, weight, imperfections, all of that stuff. Not all characters need to be conventionally attractive.

    -Characters with various backgrounds. I’d love to see characters who happen to be immigrants, or whose parents were immigrants. That’d be so cool!

    -Characters who were friends before the story started. Although the ‘meeting new friends and forming a team’ trope is cool and I like it, it’d be cool to see an already established friend group go on adventures together. (All the while recalling memories like “Don’t do that! Remember last time?”)

    "Stories are light. Light is precious in a world so dark." The Tale of Despereaux

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