Great books break these rules all the time. I’ll say it again: great books break these rules ALL THE TIME.
But here are ten cliches agents see so often in queries and samples, they make us go “ugh, not again.”
Characters running hands through their hair. This move almost certainly springs from the era of Jonathan Taylor Thomas hair.
- Dead parents. It needs to be said, even though everyone does it, including me. But remember, grief is not a shortcut to character development.
- Redheaded best friends. Poor redheads, always relegated to the position of bestie. Also, why are best friends so often the fun one, while the hero is a stick in the mud? Yes, shyness is relatable, but it’s okay for your main character to be a firecracker, too.
- Alcoholic moms, especially ones that drink boxed wine. Like ‘Busy Dad’, ‘Drunk Mom’ has become a shorthand for suburban ennui and inattentive, embarrassing parenting. Unless…
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