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Ebook Binge Reading and New Adult Fiction Tropes

I have never read so many books in such a short amount of time. Never. And I read a lot. On average, and at the very least -  two books a week all year long. But this Christmas vaycay I committed to truly embracing my iPad / Kindle reader and spent $150.00 on ebooks.

It was all for research purposes, but I admit, I had a bit of a blast.

The goal? Well, in addition to writing for a deadline, I set out to read as many New Adult titles as I could during my time off from the day job. I wanted to better understand the New Adult genre / label / designation / trend, or whatever the hell you want to call it - AND - to read digital only material for three weeks to see how that experience differed from reading print.

I discovered the following nuggets of hack-writer wisdom that I thought worth sharing for those tackling a New Adult manuscript or ebooks in general:

Writing and Reading on a Deadline

Instead of my usual routine of writing in the morning and reading in the evening, I changed things up and read for three hours first thing each morning - then sat down to write. I thought this would negatively impact my daily word count, but it actually increased by approximately 1k a day. Proving for me, that reading fuels writing. I also worried that reading in a different genre than what I was currently writing would adversely affect my WIP, but...nope. I was able to jump from contemporary NA fiction back into my paranormal world without any smoke coming out of the old brain bucket. (As an aside, I also discovered that not having a day job just might be the freaking cats meow. But that's a blog post for another day.)

Digital Reading Experiences vs Print

I'm a bookstore shopper. I can easily plunk down $200.00 at Chapters and walk out with a decent armful of titles. However, you can purchase a hot damn shitload of ebooks with 150 bucks. Especially if you snag most for under $4.00. I did splurge on the big gun press offerings as well, which usually sat at about $11.00 per ebook.

AND you don't have to find space for those books on your already overflowing bookshelves. I see the appeal. However, more than several of the ebooks I purchased are titles I wish I could wipe off my Kindle cloud thingie as I know I'll never re-read them, or they just weren't my cup of tea. With print - I'd end up donating these books to my public library, with e-editions - they're just taking up virtual space without the benefit of others perhaps enjoying them.

I tried, I really did, but I couldn't read my iPad in bed. With a print novel, I usually rest on my side and read with the book propped on a pillow. Didn't work with the iPad, which forced me to sit up in bed and read with my head down and caused a wicked kink in my neck. That's not the kind of kink I like in my bedroom...lol....

I did, however, appreciate that I could sit at the kitchen table, scarf back a bagel and my morning coffee while reading - hands free - with my iPad standing before my grub.

In conclusion - I enjoyed digital reading more than I thought I would, but ultimately still prefer print. I will be purchasing the ebook titles I fell in love with in print format...the keepers simply must be physical for me. Often my hands felt empty while reading and when at the end of a book I wanted to hug the story to my chest and savour a brilliant piece of writing - well, the iPad just didn't cut it.

New Adult Fiction Tropes

I won't say I'm an expert on the genre - and that's what I decided to define NA as: a genre of romance fiction, but I did read enough to identify common cliches. Some worked well for my reading tastes and I will definitely seek out similar titles in the future, but others I will avoid as I know they're not for me.

And the tropes I discovered are:

Physical / Sexual / Mental / Emotional Abuse  - in the past or is a current factor the main characters must overcome. I get the whole Fifty Shades thing and I know these are huge societal issues that need to be addressed - outted - in people's faces if things are ever going to change - but does abuse necessarily equal a complex, captivating character? Nope. It's all in the writing, people, and some of this is executed so badly it mocks those who actually suffer these heartbreaking challenges.

Death / Dying - either one of the main characters is grieving and has to learn to live / love again, or they're dying and must learn how to make the most of the time they have left. Death is unavoidable, like family drama over Christmas turkey, but as with the previous trope - this can be explored masterfully by some authors and seem like a contrived bit of emotional hijacking by others.

Harry Potter References - these abound in NA. Some are clever uses, some seem like lazy efforts to insert geek chic or make characters appear smartish.

Film / Music References - also a ton of these, which I was thrilled to see as I'm a huge film and music buff. NASTY when the author gets it wrong though. If you're going to include pop culture - do your research. I say that to myself as well, as I love to work these into my own projects.

Billionaires - there's one around every corner just waiting to tie up a girl like you - or ME...so back off bitch, this one's mine.

Swearing - there's lots of it, which, as a member of the potty-mouth club, I don't mind at all. However - I'm sad to admit - it can be overdone. Seriously. Some of the male characters in particular don't seem capable of speech / thought / physical movement without an accompanying "fuck". Pardon my French and the deliberate double entendre. ;)

Sex - I sort of consider New Adult Fiction to be akin to the sexual revolution of the 60s. Finally readers will find honest, raw, even graphic depictions of sex in fiction geared to, lets face it, a female young adult population that is or will soon be sexually active, and has sexual experience - even if they claim "technical virginity" status. I wish there had been such frank portrayals of sex in the fiction I read when I was a teen. Now it exists - hurray - but readers and writers must be careful when diving into New Adult as there are many titles straddling NA and erotica. I have no issue with heat in fiction, but I feel authors must market their titles appropriately to avoid a younger / "sweet" seeking reader choosing a title that has more than they bargained for in terms of skin on skin antics.

Musicians - bad boys / girls with guitars or drum sticks have certainly found their home with NA fiction and I love it.

Motorcycles - from pure Sons of Anarchy-type tales, to bad boys / girls with something to prove. A bike seems to be the way to declare your character is badass.

Alpha Males - from MMA fighters to men with jealousy and anger management issues - male characters with a penchant for violence strut through the pages of New Adult fiction. As someone who also writes paranormal fiction, complete with werewolves and (old school) badass vampires - I know and love some fictional alpha males. I get the pull of attraction, the thrill of a man stepping up to defend his mate, however, guys losing it over simple conversations with fellow employees, or the door man, or a stray dog on the street who gives a girl's leg a sniff...some of these just went too far for me. There's a vast difference between strong, confident alpha and creepoid stalker guy who will make your life a living hell.

Okay - that's all I have so far. I'm sure I've missed a ton of tropes / cliches and I realize these aren't restricted to just New Adult fiction, but if you're writing in, or considering writing New Adult - these are things to add, avoid, tweak or put your own spin on to make your title stand out in a current sea of NA titles coming down the pipe.


  1. Shari Green said...:

    Paper books definitely win out for me, too. I do read some e-books, but like you, if I love the book, I'm gonna want a print copy (same goes for library books...if I love it, I want my own, even though there's no room on my shelves).

  1. Judith Tewes said...:

    I agree, Shari - I think ereaders are great for traveling (less bulk) and I will likely read on my iPad more now that I've gotten used to it, but I'll continue to read and purchase print as well. Just means nabbing one more bookcase from Ikea. lol.

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