Hyperbole: The worst thing in the history of the universe!

I have been thinking 24/7 about the life-threatening truckloads of hyperbole that are coming at me non-stop from every possible direction! Translation: I have wondered lately about what seems to be an increase in exaggeration in everyday conversation and in the media.

Maybe I’m just having this massive stress freakout because my baby kept me up literally all night and I am totally starving because I haven’t eaten anything today!!! I’m a little tense because my baby, who used to spoil me by sleeping through the night, woke up for a minute at 2:00 am and 4:00 am and 7:15 am and I’m hungry because I just had a fruite smoothie for breakfast and a salad for lunch and I usually consume more calories than that.

My novel will NEVER IN A MILLION YEARS be published, despite being a heartbreaking work of staggering genius (props to Dave Eggers), because it’s a contemporary coming-of-age story with no magical creatures and NOT A SINGLE PERSON ON EARTH IS READING THOSE ANYMORE!!!!! My manuscript, which I am proud of despite its many imperfections, may have a slightly lower chance of being picked up because the trend seems to be toward books with more fantastical elements and save-the-world plotlines.

A few hours later…

Just as I was about to be carried away by hyperbole (which happens to everybody, including me, from time to time), the ALA came to my rescue and announced winners of the biggest awards in children’s literature. (You can get the full list here.) Every one of the Newbery Medal and Honor books (and most of the Printz honorees as well) was a (relatively) realistic coming-of-age story where the future of the human race was decidedly not at stake.

I think what I’ve learned by writing this post is that, in spite of what’s going on on Facebook and Twitter and wherever else, good books have resisted this trend, and not just in the contemporary genre. It seems that the really good dystopia (or fantasy, or sci-fi, etc.) has elements of nuance and delicacy that balance the high stakes plotlines. These books rely on language that becomes powerful without hyperbole or in-your-face exaggeration. The message seems to be that you can tell a story even better without excess and overstatement.

So join me, if you will, in fighting back against hyperbole! Together we will change the world!!!

Wait a second…

9 thoughts on “Hyperbole: The worst thing in the history of the universe!

  1. Love this! I'm glad I'm not the only one who freaks out occasionally. Although I do have to note that Maggie Stiefvater's Scorpio Races was a Prinz honor book–and that definitely has fantastic elements–i.e. flesh eating water horses that come out of the sea every November–but it's set very solidly and believably in this world, in an island I imagine to be somewhere off the coast of Ireland.

    Also, I love that you managed to plug Ally's book here. 🙂 (Not that she needs our endorsement, or anything).

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  2. I empathise with 'My novel will never in a million years be published…', because I was thinking the other day 'Every single one of my blog followers is a YA fantasy writer!' and I was starting to think I was the only who wasn't!

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  3. Maggie is the reason I qualified it by saying “most”. 🙂 Have there ever been so many Printz Honors given in one year? And did anybody else think this part (for the Schneider Family Book Award) was funny in a really sad way?

    “The Jury chose not to award a book in the category for children ages 0 – 8 because no submissions were deemed worthy of the award.”

    Ouch!

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  4. Your novel will be successful, just do not give up, especially because you think only save the world YA paranormal books are getting agents, publishers and awards. I agree that there are more books in this sub-genre than ever. I agree with what Annalisa, above me said. However, the market could become oversaturated very quickly with this type of book. I know that many published authors will disagree with me on this, but I don't think a writer should write toward the current trend (you never know how long a trend will last). Yes, I know the vampire lovers of the world tend to be increasing,not decreasing at a super human rapid pace.

    The bottom line: Write your story. If your writing, premise, theme, characters, voice, plot, story structure etc. are all good then you will stand out. Just like the many writers of the Ya Fantasy etal genre, who do not comprehend the basic core principles of story engineering and how to write strong, compelling characters with compelling goals and high stakes will not succeed. Don't worry about the genre, just write your story and you will shine.

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