Common Themes/Cliches Associated with New Adult Fiction

This post is a response to AmandaSays's request post.  I compiled this while I was doing research for the NA parody I'm working on.  Bear with me, because this is kinda long, and by no means is it comprehensive, more like things I've seen in all the books I've picked up thus far (and these are things I've come across in the 100+ books I've read in this age group so far).


1. Tragic Past Association

  1. Abuse
  2. Rape/Sexual assault
  3. Memory Loss Due to Trauma
  4. Mental Illness
  5. Terminal Illness (in family, close relationships, or individual character's illness)
  6. Self-Harm/Triggering Issues
  7. Suicide attempts or Suicide in Family/Close Circles
  8. Violence (struggles against it or inflicting it)
  9. Obsessive behaviors


2. Sexuality (Themes)

  1. Virginity (and the association with being "pure")
  2. Sexual Choices
  3. Sexual Openess
  4. Sexual Shaming and Contradictions Associated with Sexual Identity/Choices
  5. Sexual Domination
  6. Sexual Abuse


3. "Bad Boys"

  1. Struggles with Possession/Control (in relationships, in future, etc.)
  2. Damaged
  3. Tattoos
  4. Abrasive
  5. Alpha personalities mostly (very few beta males)
  6. Sexually active/sexually confident/sexually dominant (very few virgin heroes)
  7. Self-absorbed
  8. Overconfident
  9. Aggressive
  10. Penchant for violence/Conflict for Little to No Motivation
  11. Jealousy
  12. Resentment for Authority or Privilege
  13. Dominance/Domination
  14. Positive male-male relationships (as opposed to female-female relationships)
  15. Reduction of female roles to being sexual "conquests" (i.e. who did they "lay", "bag", etc.)


4. "Bad (or Good) Girls"

  1. Damaged
  2. Lacking Self Confidence/Assertiveness
  3. Submissive
  4. Abrasive
  5. Resentment for Authority/Privilege
  6. Jealousy
  7. Chiefly associated with the incidents of sexual shaming - labeling, accusations, etc.
  8. Damsel in Distress - even confident, independent females need saving from male hero
  9. Lack of positive girl relationships (usually see friends as "enemies" or competition in relationships, education, positions of authority, etc.)


5. Privileged Heroes and Heroines/Lack of Diversity

  1. Usually Caucasian Males and Females featured, little minority presence
  2. Presence of minority groups are usually token (token black male, token gay friend, etc.)
  3. Characters come into monetary wealth unexpectedly, wish fulfillment complex
  4. Assimilated behaviors/Peer Pressure
  5. Inadvertent or Blatant Prejudices/Assumptions made on behalf of minority groups
  6. Trivialization of Sexual Identity/Discovery/Choice


6. Parental Issues 

  1. Abusive parental or guardian figures (physical, emotional, sexual, etc.)
  2. Resentment towards one or both parental figures
  3. Alcoholism/Substance Abuse
  4. Spousal control/abuse
  5. Spousal submission (one parent rules over the other for authority)


7. Occupations/Backgrounds

  1. College students/grads
  2. High school students/grads
  3. College Dropouts
  4. Undecideds
  5. Musicians (singers, guitarists, percussionists, etc.)
  6. Entertainers (actors, etc.)
  7. Teachers/Teacher Assistants
  8. Office workers (secretaries, clerks, etc.)
  9. Billionaires (Tycoons, Born into Wealth, Self-Amassed Wealth, Wealth from Tragedy, etc.)
  10. Sports figures (MMA Fighter, college/professional athletes, etc.)
  11. Bartenders
  12. Prostitutes


8. Narrative Tones

  1. Melodrama (focus on emotional reactions elicited from events or actions rather than character development/growth)
  2. One-dimensional character typing ("bad boy", "good" girl, token gay friend, token slut, token mean girl, token drunk, token villain, token friend with benefits, token "best male friend but not a lover", etc.)