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One thing that I know readers will absolutely eat up is a book about the afterlife. Now, I’m not really talking about angels or ghosts left behind in our world (but those are definitely wanted, too!), but more stories about a character moving on to the next life, whether it be the Christian heaven, the Ancient Egyptian afterlife, the Greek or Roman Underworld, or the Islamic Jannah or Jahannam. Perhaps the character is taken untimely from our world and sent to their “afterlife”, and they are searching for a way back. Any way you choose, this story topic will most likely be received well, as there aren’t too many of them out there, and especially not in the YA genre.
Ah, technology. We’re lucky enough to live in an age where we have been blessed with apps and devices that help us on a daily basis, and many of them can be particularly useful in the romance department. There definitely need to be more books implimenting modern topics, like Tinder, Instagram, Snapchat, just to name a few. Somehow, plenty of people seem to find love with tools like these, and it would be interesting to incorporate them into your story, either in a new relationship or with a Long Distance Relationship (I’m talking chapters completely written in Skype transcripts!). Plus, with shows like Catfish (which happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine), we’re left with a huge gap opportunity: stories about catfishers! Your character can be the one trying to find out who they’ve been talking to, or they might be the one tricking the other person… the possibilities are pretty endless!
FRIENDS WITH BENEFITS
This might be because I’m writing a book about a friends-with-benefits relationship, but I’ve found that there’s only a select few books about a casual relationship, especially between YA or NA characters. I usually like to read a few books in the genres or topics I’m writing about, just to see what works and what I can learn from them, but for this research round, I’ve been left pretty empty-handed! The only one that I’ve found that I really do enjoy is The DUFF by Kody Keplinger*, and you can read my review of that here!
STRONG PLATONIC RELATIONSHIPS
Speaking of relationships, has anyone seen any good books about a strong platonic relationship between two or more characters? This is one of many topics that is, unfortunately, glossed over because of the need for at least a little romance in pretty much every genre, but I’d love to get my hands on a book about a killer friendship, between two guys, two girls, or especially between a guy and a girl that doesn’t end up as a romantic one. Maybe just to get that gooey love in, you can throw in a third party character, but I want to see friendships, people!
NON-ROMANTIC VAMPIRE FICTION
I think that for the most part, we can all agree that the vampire theme of the past ten years or so has run its course. However, there would be some twists that could spring it back into place if they’re written well enough, like a vampire novel that’s actually, I don’t know, scary? I’m not saying that you have to directly channel Dracula or anything, but there’s a reason Lestat was so much… can we say, cooler than Louis in Anne Rice’s Interview With A Vampire, isn’t there? He wasn’t all broody! Enough of the broody, self-loathing vampires, let’s get some creatures of the night who actually enjoy being supernatural killers!
Though there is certainly a genre of it’s own, it’s pretty clear that non-straight, CIS-gendered characters need to be brought to the spotlight, especially within YA and NA fiction. It would be awesome to see a character, who is either transitioning or has recently transitioned, trying to figure out living in a close-minded community while still being themselves, or going from a close-minded community to a very liberal one and adjusting and growing accordingly. Plus, we’d also love to see some romance from every other span of the sexuality/orientation spectrum, thank you very much.
MENTAL ILLNESS (OTHER THAN DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY)
If you guys have been here a little while, you might remember my “How To Really Write A Character With Depression” post, but I’m going to throw out a wild, crazy idea here: there are more mental illnesses aside from depression and anxiety. There is so little representation of mental illness as topics in fiction that I can’t actually think of more than five off the top of my head that I’ve really enjoyed. It would be incredible to get a book from the point of view of a character who is bipolar, schizophrenic, sociopathic, psychopathic… you get the picture. Much like you see in books like The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer*, these kinds of characters can be unreliable narrators, which could provide you the perfect opportunity you need to get your story told through a specific lens to the reader.
With Hamilton being one of the most popular things out right now, it’s certainly the right moment to hit your audience with a good historical rivalry. Much like Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, Nikola Tesla and Thomas Edison had such a dirty rivalry that when Edison died, Tesla wrote in the NYT, “He had no hobby, cared for no sort of amusement of any kind and lived in utter disregard of the most elementary rules of hygiene” (source). Trust me, these kinds of topics are a goldmine.
As I’ve mentioned in my “How To Pick A Genre For Your Book” post, the YA genre is in desperate need of more books in the horror subgenre. There’s only been one or two books that I can think of within the horror topics of YA that got my spine tingling (like Asylum!), so I want some stories to really freak me out, while simultaneously involving people of younger ages!
CLASSIC STORY RETELLINGS
Though we’ve gotten a few more kind of fairy-tale retellings in the past few years (thanks to trends set by Once Upon a Time and other mainstream pop culture!), I know a lot of readers would love to pick up a book that takes an old story or folk-tale and reshapes it into modern circumstances. My heart is always hooked with a good Shakespeare retelling, but there’s others you can refer to as well, including culture mythology (Greek, Egyptian, Norse, etc.), Metamorphoses by Ovid, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, really anything that you can put a modern spin on!
By the way, if you’re looking at all for a fun group of writers to get involved with or to get some support on your writing, please do check out my brand new Goodreads group, the Writing Warriors and Bloggers! It’s just getting started, so the boards are pretty quiet, but my hopes are that it’ll be a place for everyone to connect and ask questions and help fellow writers and bloggers from all over the globe!
Have you used any of these themes in your work? Have any of them inspired your next big project? What books or stories have you read that incorporate these kinds of themes? Let us know in the comments, because I know we’ll all love to share them with each other!