Reflection · Young adult writing

There’s A New Girl On Every YA Corner


I think of many blog topics in the middle of the night. While the reason for this is beyond me, at least the ideas appear. Kind of like the new girl who always seems to show up in school in the YA books I read. From Twilight to Fallen to the beloved Beautiful Creatures, it’s always the new girl in town. Dang, she’s pretty popular!

It seems to be a successful formula, though. Millions of books sold don’t lie when the new girl comes to town and does one or more of the following:

  • Appear more beautiful than any other girl in school
  • Exudes a mysterious scent
  • Attracts the most meaty and tasteful boys
  • Shoots laser beams from her eyes
  • Smells and tastes so good that nobody can resist her
  • Yadayadayada, you know the drill

Perplexed, I turned to the Magic 8 Ball known as Twitter for some answers as to why these stories always seem to start with a new girl in school. One friend noted that it’s because the writers can’t come up with anything more original. Other responses include:

“Because that way you don’t have to explain why the paranormal activities were never noticed before.”

“I know right! I have school scenes in my novel & I almost took them all out bc I’m so sick of the trend. Luckily, my MS is a guy.”

While these answers could be correct (and I’m sure they are to some extent), they are by no means an indication that the authors of successful “new girl” YA stories sat around concocting the ultimate boilerplate from which to begin their tales. I personally think it’s fun to build a little mystery into YA, and it can be accomplished with the flair and vivacity of new blood (oops, sorry Bella).

When you get down to it, the new girl in school is a timeless story. After all, don’t you remember your own high school experience? Whenever a new kid joined the educational fold, you were curious. Even when they were scary beautiful, or scary-scary (but you still looked anyway), there was a sense of newness and intrigue. The new kid (or girl) is exciting because she’s an opportunity for connecting with “the one.” Throw that kind of goodness into a YA novel, where the opportunity becomes reality, and you’ve got a good hook from which to cook.

Like it or not, the new girl rules. Don’t be afraid to invite her to your school the next time you start a new story.

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5 thoughts on “There’s A New Girl On Every YA Corner

  1. You’re right about the new girl. I didn’t think about it much until your post. Now I’m thinking back to some of the books I’ve read lately, and many have a new girl in them. One of my secondary characters is a new girl, and she’s pivotal to the plot.

    1. So many stories start with the new girl. I wish I could think of one that starts with the new guy. OH WAIT! I have a WIP that’s like that. Sheesh, I should go back and finish it. Then I can start a new trend! LOL! Just kidding. Every time I was the new girl in school, I was shunned like the plague and no secret power could have changed that (drats!).

      I think it’s good to have your new girl as a secondary character… she’s the catalyst for change, yes?

      – Julie

  2. An intense new girl story that I recently read is Brutal by Michael Harmon. This punk rocker from LA is relocated to a Trueman Show type town in the Napa Valley. One of the best books I’ve read in while.

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