Talk To Me 18: The New Guy

Imagine the following scenario:

You’re sitting in class, probably bored because of the routine of it all. The teacher’s voice barely registers in your head and you doodle some things in your notebook to at least appear to be taking notes. There’s a knock on the door, and he steps in. The new student. The girls take notice immediately. He looks different, maybe exotic, maybe mysterious. Whatever thing is new about this guy, the main requirement is that he’s cute. Oh, and that he takes a seat near you, of course.

You feel it. A tingling sensation brought on by his arrival. Something is about to happen.

And that something is: plot. Crazy things are about to go down, and you’ll be tangled up in it. All because of this new guy and his odd attractiveness.

I’m pretty sure that we’ve all encountered this kind of thing in a book. MC meets the new guy who usually turns out to be her new love interest. There’s a chance that this story will turn into insta-love, which makes me roll my eyes. It’s one thing to be nice to the new guy and help him out, it’s another thing to pledge your entire life to him within a week or month of his arrival.

The plot coupon of “MC meets the cute new guy” seems to be relatively prevalent in stories. So what are some of the things we might see when this plot coupon is cashed in?

  • The New Guy is cute. He’s got to be cute in some way that catches the attention of the others in class. The MC will shrug this off at first, but after some teasing on the part of the BFF, she will admit to finding him cute too.
  • The New Guy and MC will share classes. If this is the kind of school where the students can pick their subjects, these two will somehow (by the rules of plot) have the same classes.
  • Since they share classes, it follows that they will have study sessions. Maybe they’ll have study sessions with other friends, but those friends will eventually disappear until they have a study session all to themselves.
  • MC’s Childhood Guy Friend suddenly gets jealous. Dude, you’ve known this girl your whole life and have never even given her a HINT of your interest. But now that another guy’s in the picture, you’re going to act all overprotective and jealous? Oh man.
  • MC will face some sort of gossip from her peers for “hogging” the New Guy. Bonus points if Alpha Bitch Popular Girl is in the picture and tries to steal the New Guy away.
  • If it’s a fantasy story, the New Guy has some weird connection to the fantasy stuff and will probably end up either helping the MC, or becoming her enemy. But he’s still her love interest, OF COURSE. Think of the drama!

So what are my thoughts on this? Well, it depends.

When I first read this, alarm bells for insta-love start going off. I become a little more wary of this because I really don’t want to see a potentially good story being derailed into “oh yes let us continue to suck face and angst about each other even though we should do important plot stuff.”

Unless the book is specifically a romance novel instead of one say about, a murder happening in school, the key lies in not letting the romance take over the story. If the MC suddenly undergoes a personality transplant where the New Guy is the ONLY person she cares about, I’m out.

One possible alternative to having the New Guy become MC’s plot partner is for one of her existing friends to do it. Maybe she doesn’t know her friend as well as she does. In all their years of friendship, maybe she never detected a hint of magicalness about him. It would be interesting to see how their relationship might change because of what’s happening in the story. (Bonus? The story feels a little less like insta-love to me. :P)

So, what about you, dear reader?

Have you come across a book that had The New Guy as its plot coupon, whether done well or not? What are you thoughts on this kind of thing in books?

Let me know in the comments!

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10 thoughts on “Talk To Me 18: The New Guy

  1. What an awesome post Ana! You hit the nail on the head for the “the new guy” plot. I remember reading so many YA books like that two years ago! This new kid to school is super cute and mysterious and of course the MC and him have all their classes together and the queen bee is after him and yadda yadda yadda. I’m really not fond of this way of introducing the love interest since it feels so unrealistic to me. Too much drama and too many circumstances that conveniently push the two characters together. ( i.e. they have all the same classes, have to tutor one another, be science and gym partners, sit next to eachother, and the guy moves into the same neighborhood. Really?)

    This post is so true and applicable to a lot of books πŸ™‚ thanks for the post Ana!

  2. This plot is sooo common! Or the version where the girl is the new student and the hot, unattainable guy starts paying attention to her after years of ignoring all of the other girls. I’m looking at you, Bella and Edward! As common as it is, it’s one that I do enjoy. I do get worried about instalove, and the girl dropping the rest of her life just to be with this new guy. Unless there’s some huge overarching plot that disrupts her life first, and then she just happens to be tossed with the guy…then okay! I’ll buy it! I do think it’s overused though. It seems like one of the only ways for people to meet in YA novels.

  3. Some of your descriptions on the new guy are spot on. There are some that I like and some that I don’t. I’m more lenient towards contemporary books. Not all, but most depending on how it was written. For some reason, I don’t like it for paranormal or all those other fast-paced genres. They don’t give much time to develop the romance. They’re instantly passionate toward each other, usually because it’s some supernatural thing or whatnot. I think these are harder to develop because there are a lot things going on like world building and action-packed plots or whatever. Oh, and there’s usually the alpha mean girl in most of them.

  4. Thank you, Emily! πŸ™‚ One of the things I hate about this plot coupon is the drama. Ugh, so much MUCH MUCH drama! Especially if it’s a contemporary YA set in a high school. -_- Everything’s to convenient where they HAPPEN to get the same classes, teachers, tutors, lunch breaks, etc. Might as well shove them into the same bathroom stall!

  5. Yes, I agree! I get so worried about instalove and hate it when the girl just seems to forget everything else about her life to pay attention to the guy. -_-

    There are so many other ways to meet. Why not have the guy be an old student, but he and the girl end up in the same school club? Why not have him as one of her friend’s friends? There are other ways to introduce a love interest other than “HEY THERE HOT NEW GUY!”

  6. Haha, thank you! Yes, I totally see how it can feel rushed. Trying to balance new love interest and world-building in fantasy stories is hard, and I hate it when the balance goes into the love interest. When the plot becomes all about the love and nothing about the action or mystery, I’m out. -_-

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