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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