Cliche story idea?
Hi Glen! I would like to get your opinion on a story idea of mine. I don't know if it's unoriginal or cliche or completely nonsense, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.
My story is about a teenage girl of an indiscriminate age who lives in a totalitarian government in the future. This government completely controls their citizens via drugs. Because the drugs are an added expense, the government wants to completely abolish personalities and people's ability to make decisions. They are using teenagers as their main guinea pigs because teenagers are the most rebellious. This girl, after being thoroughly subjected to a series of their hardest tests and simulations, is sent to the outside world (without drugs) to complete a made-up task (they want to see how well the tests worked). Outside, she meets a group of people. After growing close to them and learning about their backgrounds, she grows to hate her government. In the end, she and the group try to take down the government.
Thank you for taking your time to read this and have a great day!Answer:
Because you're asking this question, you probably have a sense that this story idea features tropes seen in a number of YA books. These include...
* A dystopian future.
* A totalitarian government employing mind-control techniques (1984
* Teenagers put in a situation where they are isolated from adults (Lord of the Flies
* Teenagers nonetheless manipulated by adults -- treated as subjects of a social psychology experiment (The Maze Runner, Divergent
) or expendable tools (The Hunger Games, The 100
* Teenagers struggling to find their own identity via rebelliousness (Catcher in the Rye
* Government as the enemy
(symbolizing the previous generation of adults).
* Teens forming a tribe -- that is, being thrust into a group in which they must form friendships to survive (Awakening
However, you should bear in mind that there are few wholly original ideas. The reason these stories are popular is because they are a model for the kinds of feelings teenagers often go through.
Many teens find themselves thrust in with strangers their own age where the rules and tasks are set by adults (i.e. high school, military training, sports teams, other groups or programs). In other words, they lack control over their lives and feel manipulated.
These feelings often reflect reality. Most adults see their jobs as parents, teachers, coaches, etc. to be one of manipulating teens to become what the adults think they should become, rather than helping teens become what they want to become. Adults often are afraid of what teens might become if left to their own devices.
Teens have a healthy need to establish their own identity, both as individuals and as peer groups. They also have a need to prove themselves -- to become acknowledged as the adults they are rapidly becoming.
For these reasons, such stories will likely remain popular. Your task as a writer is to find a fresh take on these ideas -- to make your story different enough on the surface, while still appealing to the genuine feelings of YA readers.
Give them a unique set of characters and an interesting spin on the situation, and most readers won't even notice the similarities with other stories.
Remember too that teens and children keep growing up. Many of those who read The Hunger Games
are now adults. In the next few years a new generation of teens will enter high school and will be looking for something new.