First, you have to want to be the best.

Ah, ''{{shonen}}''. 90% of anime exported to America falls under this category. If you want to market your anime/manga/whatever to young guys, read this...

...after you read [[SoYouWantTo.WriteAStory So You Want To: Write A Story]], of course.

!'''Necessary Tropes'''

Well, you've probably got a young man, right? And he probably wants ToBeAMaster of whatever his universe deems SeriousBusiness. At least, that's the motivation of TheHero. Other characters will have other motivations. But that'll be the core of your story.

Before you do anything, though, read the description for JapaneseSpirit, as well as [[Analysis/JapaneseSpirit its analysis page]], to understand why Shounen uses the tropes it does.

!'''Choices, Choices'''

Even with the ToBeAMaster plot, you've got a few choices to work with:

* Motivation: ''Why'' does TheHero want ToBeAMaster? To [[WellDoneSonGuy please his parents]]? To get everyone to notice him? To win the heart of his love interest? Or is it a more selfish goal, like fame or fortune? What will he have to sacrifice ToBeAMaster? How does one become a master? Will he encounter any potential rivals?
* To make your fights even grander and epic, give your hero and his enemies StockSuperpowers, related to said SeriousBusiness that he wants ToBeAMaster of. Choose wisely what kind of powers each character gets, as they must reflect their personality and background.
* More on the way...

!'''Pitfalls'''

Alright, rule number one of shonen is simple: say no to the SpotlightStealingSquad. Yes, you would assume TheHero gets a vast majority of the spotlight -- but that's okay, he's the ''main character''. Sure, we all know you want to focus on that angsty, brooding Lancer...but give him some time out of the spotlight, too. (This is especially true if the story has LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters.)

Other tropes to avoid:
* ArcFatigue. Shounen is often mocked for having very slow pacing, and with good reason. Going through your plot points too fast is bad, but going through them too slowly is ''deadly''. (Especially if it looks like you're trying to draw out the story for no good reason, which is a good source of {{Narm}}.) Also, decide early on if your series will be episodic, or if it'll focus on {{Story Arc}}s.
* GaryStu[=/=]MarySue. Just don't. Give your hero a realistic flaw. Shoot, maybe even two... dozen! (Don't overdo this, though; see FailureHero and ThisLoserIsYou below.) On a related note...
* InvincibleHero. A hero who wins most or all of the time gets boring fast. Even more so if all his fights follow the same formula of the hero receiving a NoHoldsBarredBeatdown until he's finally able to use his signature technique, which he will always use in the same way with little or no variation. (See One Trick Pony below.) Little kids might not mind as much, but older audiences will get bored quickly.
* InvincibleVillain. Using more than one BigBad over the course of the series is a good idea. Having your heroes fight the same villain too often can lead to ArcFatigue.
* FailureHero. If it's bad to have your heroes win too often, it's also bad to have them ''lose'' too often. If they continually suffer TheWorfEffect, then your show will wind up as SnarkBait. And if you establish your characters as competent fighters, only to have them start losing battles they should have won as the story progresses, fans might start complaining about CharacterDerailment.
* {{Faux Action Girl}}s. Oh, boy. Here's a tip: if you want to establish a female character as a competent ActionGirl who can kick ass alongside the guys, ''show'' her doing it and [[JustifiedTrope justify]] the times when she's not as competent as she's said to be. ShowDontTell is the main problem with {{Faux Action Girl}}s.
* DemotedToExtra[=/=]OutOfFocus. Beware these tropes, especially if your story has LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters. Granted, if you have a large cast, you can't give every character a major role in every episode. However, fans of a particular character won't be happy if they think their favorite is getting slighted, especially if he or she was introduced as a major player in the story. Of course, one way to avoid these tropes is to keep your cast fairly small. This may lead to...
* TheOnlyOneAllowedToDefeatYou. If you want your hero to be the only one who can beat the BigBad, make sure to [[JustifiedTrope justify it]] via OnlyICanKillHim.
* One Trick Pony. If your hero has only one technique which he uses over and over, your series will become repetitive. You can avoid this by letting your hero discover multiple uses for his technique. Example: early on, Manga/{{Naruto}} only used his Shadow Clone Jutsu to have his clones {{Zerg Rush}}ing his opponents. As the story continued, Naruto began using the clones for The Rasengen, training, collecting information, etc.
* IdiotHero. Not ABSOLUTELY taboo, but this trope has been ''way'' overused. A cool, calm, intelligent shonen hero would be an interesting subversion and likely well received by fans.
** Case in point: Ichigo Kurosaki from ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''. Not always calm, and not incredibly intelligent, but definitely cool.
* NewPowersAsThePlotDemands. PowerCreepPowerSeep is inevitable in a shonen plotline. Fans expect and even want the hero to keep getting stronger, and in turn face stronger and stronger enemies, on their way to becoming [[ToBeAMaster the master]]. The trick is to keep your world [[MagicAIsMagicA internally consistent and believable]]. Take a break from the battles to do a little {{Foreshadowing}} or WorldBuilding. It will go a long way towards explaining the latest super power the hero has [[DesperationAttack decided to use]] at the last second to defeat their newest foe. In addition, don't power up your characters too fast. Sure you want to make it clear that they are {{The Chosen One}}s, but if they quickly outpace every other character in the show it will become apparent that you're just [[AssPull making up new abilities and enemies as you go]]. A well placed ChekhovsGun in an early episode that comes back in season four will impress shonen fans, who are all but resigned to writers having no idea what happens next.
* ThisLoserIsYou. [[SarcasmMode Surprisingly]], audiences will often find it difficult to identify with a {{jerkass}} idiot who never learns anything and no one likes.

!!'''Adapting'''

The most common way to avoid the vast majority of the work and pitfalls mentioned above and below is to adapt a pre-existing manga series to an anime. This comes with its own pitfalls, however, and the biggest one is time. If you're adapting a manga that's currently running, you're going to [[OvertookTheManga Overtake The Manga]] sooner or later. Your average episode is going to take up the same events as two or three chapters, and as such the anime will be moving two or three times as fast as the manga does. This leads to some specific problems:

* {{Gecko Ending}}s. Trying to continue or finish the story on your own. If you're not working with the original author, this may not end well. On the other hand, the author may not ''want'' to work with you, in which case you may end up resorting to...
* {{Filler}}. Good Lord, Filler. It killed ''Anime/RurouniKenshin'' and gave {{Fan Hater}}s a lot of ammo regarding ''Anime/{{Naruto}}''. Filler in itself isn't terrible -- you're just trying to give yourself a little more time to write the main story. But for crying out loud, at least make it interesting! Delve deep into the backstory of a SatelliteCharacter. Develop a subplot that hasn't gotten a lot of airtime. Stuff like that. If possible, see if the manga-ka has any ideas that they don't have space to put in the manga, a la ''Manga/OnePiece''.
* {{Flanderization}}.

!!'''Romance'''

Romantic relationships are rarely done well in ''Shonen''. In some works, they're [[NoHuggingNOKissing not done at all]]. While it might be best to leave it to {{Shipping}}, here's some ideas if you think you can make it work:

* The BattleCouple: Your main audience is guys. If there's one way to suck them into the relationship of a pair, it's to have them ''both'' be on the front lines, as equals. Give them powers that complement one another better than [[FiveManBand the rest]], or have it so they can't do as much unless they're together. (The Nirvash from ''Anime/EurekaSeven'', a HumongousMecha which the two main characters could only pilot together, is a good example of how to do it right). TheChick barely getting involved in the fight is overdone; the LadyOfWar who saved {{The Hero}}'s ass ''again'' while working on the bet they made to see who's on top tonight will be a few metric tons more interesting. And of course, you can always make your hero's LoveInterest a full-fledged ActionGirl.
* Keep in mind that there's a difference between romance and sexuality. The young male readers who might gag over a mushy kissing scene will have no problem with [[{{Fanservice}} panty shots, girls undressing, and general PG-13 nudity]]. Even if your hero might never confess feeling ''anything'' for a girl, you can still have him try sneaking a peek of her naked, so long as he never gets to see anything ''too'' good. You can also have him beaten up by the girl he was drooling over, although [[DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale this trope]] has UnfortunateImplications.
* And not all {{Fanservice}} must be female, either. A few [[{{Bishonen}} pretty boys]] can help get you some [[EstrogenBrigade rabid fans from the other side of the chromosome pool]]. Just be careful with ''how'' pretty you make those boys, otherwise you can wind up with some [[ViewerGenderConfusion very confused fans]]. And don't be afraid if the male fanservice can venture into HoYay, heck feel free to play around with if you like (even do a good-natured gag or few about it). But if your worried that the HoYay might be too much of a Turn off to male viewers, some well-used LesYay can help even things out. It might come off as EveryoneIsBi, but hey, a little equal opportunity fanservice never hurt anyone huh?
* However on the concept of HoYay and LesYay you might want to be careful about how their "official love life" will go. If their {{Canon}} romantic status is either a case of StrangledByTheRedString or a overly Designated Unrequited love, then this might be a good case of FanPreferredCouple.
* Unrequited love is not a flat out bad idea but if the romance in the story is a case of AllLoveIsUnrequited, this can make the concept feel a bit... [[EnforcedTrope enforced]], to put it mildly. Fans sometimes complain about certain characters (often female) who exist only to be perpetually unrequited love interests. (And if one of your male characters is a CelibateHero or ChasteHero, then you might want at least one female character to follow suit; otherwise, chances you'll be accused of a DoubleStandard.) Basically, if you don't want to do romance, you probably shouldn't do it. Lack of romance certainly hasn't hurt ''Manga/OnePiece''...
* Speaking of {{Celibate Hero}}es and {{Chaste Hero}}es: If you want one of your characters to be one of these, then you might not want to have any of the other characters holding unrequited feelings for them. Having a character to be a CelibateHero no matter what will often make his/her unrequited love interests either be {{Flanderized}} because of this unrequited love or at least appear to be. (And this will be especially deemed annoying if said unrequited love interest is an otherwise appealing character.) Fans are generally more forgiving towards these characters if they are not used as a reason why one of their favorite characters will never be in a good relationship.
* If you want one of your cast to be the most common form of {{Tsundere}}, a girl who's angry on the outside but is sweet on the inside, then please remember the "sweet" part. Otherwise, you'll wind up stuck with just a {{Jerkass}} who engages in DoubleStandardAbuseFemaleOnMale--and all the trope's UnfortunateImplications. You should also avoid making this character a FauxActionGirl, or else she'll just become TheScrappy.
* Be careful when writing a PatientChildhoodLoveInterest, as there are plenty of fans whom would sympathize with her and make her part of their FanPreferredPairing. If you're determined to include such a character, then make sure to [[JustifiedTrope justify]] the relationship.

!'''Potential Subversions'''

* As noted, shonen already has too many {{Idiot Hero}}es, so this is a good trope to avoid. And no, we're not talking about making TheHero a BookDumb character. Make a hero who's genuinely intelligent both inside and outside the classroom.
* Also, TheHero doesn't have to be the only one to win major fights. Let TheLancer or TheBigGuy go up against the BigBad once in a while...and win! If TheHero has just been thrashed by said villain, it makes for some interesting drama.
* Make TheHero a boyish girl. Not necessarily TheLadette, but a {{Tomboy}}, a {{Bokukko}}, or an OtakuSurrogate. It's not like it hasn't [[Manga/SoulEater been]] [[Manga/{{Claymore}} done]] [[LightNovel/{{Slayers}} before]]. For a CherryTapping, you get an [[MsFanservice endless supply of fanservice]] right there on the front lines.
* Gender-flip some traditional shonen character roles. Make TheLancer or TheRival an {{Aloof Dark Haired|Girl}} ActionGirl. Make TheChick a [[{{Keet}} cheerful]] NonActionGuy. Or just go with the above suggestion and make the hero female.
* Instead of TheChick, why not give the role of the hero's [[LoveInterests Love Interest]] to, say, TheLancer? It could make for some interesting relationship development, especially if TheLancer also doubles as TheRival.

!'''Writers' Lounge'''
!!'''Suggested Themes and Aesops'''

To quote ShonenJump: '''[[{{Determinator}} Hard work]]''', '''[[TrueCompanions friendship]]''', '''[[CrowningMomentOfAwesome victory]]'''! A shonen hero is someone who never, ever gives up. The deceitful and treacherous might appear to have the upper hand at first, but their downfall is as certain as the rising sun... unless they too learn the error of their ways and [[CharacterMagneticTeam embrace shonen ways themselves]].

It's a common trick to give the hero some special power or talent that makes them unique, but heaven help the writer who leans too much on that device. Nobody will respect a hero who doesn't sweat blood to ''earn'' [[EarnYourHappyEnding their victory]].

!!'''Potential Motifs'''

Shonen means POWER! STRENGTH! GLORY! Your audience doesn't have any patience for abstraction or allusion. They want the real stuff. The juice. Characters themed after [[AnimalThemedSuperbeing powerful animals]], beasts from myth, deadly natural phenomena. Heroes who lay it all on the line for love and justice. Battles where everything is at stake: the character's courage, their soul, the soul of mankind! Even a simple game of Mahjongg or Go can be made epic by [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotSymbolic likening the participants to gods or demons]].

!!'''Suggested Plots'''

* The TournamentArc is a favorite of ''shonen''. It gives you a chance to introduce a whole lot of new characters in a short amount of time. Usually, you'll encounter the following there:
** The reigning champions, who will face the main team in the finals.
** The team that cheats to win, and usually gets away with it until they, yes, face the main team.
** The team that has an incredibly strict training regimen, but loses to the easy-going main team and learns to lighten up.
** Any number of teams containing people from the main team's past.
** Finally, note that any of these teams can overlap.
* If the first episode features TheHero winning a tough battle against a fairly tough rival, the second episode should feature him being absolutely owned against an even tougher rival.
* If you are using StockSuperpowers, you can make a lot out of them:
** At the beginning, give TheHero some superpower (possibly, [[FallingIntoTheCockpit accidentally]]) and let him rampage around with it for a few episodes, defeating the smaller fry. What he doesn't know yet is that his power is in no way unique to him and is, indeed, the weakest of them all...
** ...so you introduce new enemies with stronger superpowers stemming from the same source, who inevitably hand TheHero's ass back to him at first, until, through [[{{Determinator}} hard work and dedication]], he lives to see the TimeToUnlockMoreTruePotential. After that, you introduce even more characters [[MyKungFuIsStrongerThanYours with even stronger powers]] and the cycle [[StrictlyFormula repeats itself]] [[LongRunners endlessly]]...
** At some point, consider introducing a BadassNormal {{rival}} who kicks TheHero's superpowered butt ''without'' any powers of his own. Bonus points if your hero later defeats him [[BroughtDownToNormal on his own ground]] or if the rival is amicable enough to [[BoxingLessonsForSuperman coach him in the fine art of muggle-fu]] (or both).
** For the GrandFinale, pick the FinalBoss carefully: he must be LargeAndInCharge and slinging superpowers of cosmic proportions that only TheHero's can (barely) match. However, defeating the {{Shonen}} BigBad '''never, ever''' happens through superpowers alone but instead, primarily through HotBlood and ThePowerOfFriendship.

!'''Departments'''
!!'''Set Designer''' / '''Location Scout'''

Everything must be HUGE, EPIC and UNPRECEDENTED. The laws of physics are a low priority here. When in doubt, take a real world landmark or natural feature, make it ten times larger [[InstantAwesomeJustAddNinja and fill it with ninja]].

!!'''Props Department'''

AnachronismStew is your friend. Only wusses restrict themselves to a single time period. A REAL MASTER knows that atomic ninja are better than regular ninja, steampunk pirates beat ordinary pirates, and EverythingsBetterWithDinosaurs. And of course, [[KatanasAreJustBetter the Katana]] is a tasteful adornment to any time period.

!'''Costume Designer'''

Do your characters go to school? Well, they'll need their uniforms. They probably won't change out of them too terribly often, either. Japanese schoolchildren love fighting evil in their uniforms.

Also, if you're so inclined to do a BeachEpisode, you'll need bikinis and trunks. Of course, you could always subvert it and have the hottie show up in a demure swimsuit.

!!'''Casting Director'''

At the core of every Shonen show is its FiveManBand:

* TheHero: Wants ToBeAMaster. Usually BookDumb. The hero gets all the NextTierPowerUp items, and is generally the only one able to defeat the BigBad. He (it's usually a "he") will win his battles by lots of HeroicResolve, because he's such a {{Determinator}} like that.
* TheLancer: In terms of motivation, TheLancer usually wants to kill or defeat someone from his past. If this is the case, there's always an episode early on where they meet said person, and are absolutely destroyed. TheLancer is usually the second strongest member of the team.
* TheChick: A difficult character to do well, often making her TheScrappy. If she's there for simple eye candy then maybe it's best to let her stay in the background looking pretty, or if you're feeling a little braver she might do well with a wacky personality. Giving her useful skills can help; maybe she has HealingHands, or you could make her a WrenchWench or a WaifProphet. And she could always be an ActionGirl who joins fully in the fights.
* TheBigGuy: This character is [[InformedAbility really strong, tough and powerful]], powerful enough to [[TheWorfEffect lose repeatedly against all the major enemies]] (when that isn't TheLancer's job). Generally physically bigger than the other characters and more heavily muscled, their brute strength often comes in useful even if their fighting record is somewhat less impressive. This character is often a good choice for your TokenMinority or CaptainEthnic. (Chad from ''Manga/{{Bleach}}'' is a textbook example.)
* TheSmartGuy: Usually doesn't get much screen time, unless he can show some AwesomenessByAnalysis of his own. He is usually stays back while others fight and comes up with new ways how to overcome the newest obstacle or empower TheHero even more.

!!'''Stunt Department'''

It's hard to depict a punch to the face that is as painful as ''actually being punched in the face'', but we try. Exaggeration and externalization are your watchwords. Never ''tell'' what a character is feeling -- ''show'' it! A chess player doesn't just realize he's mate in five: he falls to the floor in agony, haunted by terrible visions of shattered swords and slain kings! A quarterback doesn't just go beyond his limits to score the winning touchdown: he literally becomes a demon, bulling his opponents off their feet! A ninja doesn't just throw his enemy to the ground with a well-timed reversal: he SLAMS them down from three different angles, with rushing speed lines in the background and a resounding KABLAMMM!

!'''Extra Credit'''
!!'''The Greats'''
* ''FistOfTheNorthStar''
* ''Manga/JoJosBizarreAdventure''
* ''SaintSeiya''
* ''Manga/DragonBall'': Due to its huge popularity, the TropeCodifier for many classic shonen tropes and a major influence on the genre.
* ''Manga/YuYuHakusho''
* ''Manga/HunterXHunter''
* ''Anime/RurouniKenshin''
* ''Manga/OnePiece''
* ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist''
* ''Anime/TengenToppaGurrenLagann''
* ''Manga/SoulEater''
* ''Manga/{{Claymore}}''
** Note: This edges into Seinen territory. NOT for the young and the squeamish!
* ''Manga/{{Gintama}}''
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}''
* ''Anime/EurekaSeven''
* ''Manga/{{Bleach}}''
* ''Franchise/YuGiOh''
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