The past few days I’ve been working very hard on my little project and I’ve been noticing a few literary cliches that have been making their way into the plot *shock gasp horror*. An epic discussion with a friend who’s read my work ensued last night with the concensus being that he didn’t think they were cliches at all.
Confused cat is confused.
Could it be that what some of us deem a ‘cliche’ in writing really isn’t and that some obvious cliches can be overlooked if they’re played out well enough? Furthermore, why are we so scared of touching a cliche? If your a writer you need to follow your heart and write wherever the inspiration takes you, even if that means using a little cliche or two in your story, right? Right. No matter what, we are at a stage in history where it is very rare to find a book that has a completely unique storyline, let alone is able to navigate a winding path around every cliche known to man. All stories can be linked to another in some way. Blah de Blah’s romantic plot reminds me of Romeo and Juliet, Blah do dum Blah’s epic fight scene at the end reminds me of Lord of the Rings. Do you honestly think when Romeo and Juliet was written that the kind of love Shakespeare wrote about was ‘cliche’? No! It became cliche after he popularized it. Same with today’s market. For one example- look at the vampire/werewolf feud cliche. Think of all the vampire books you have read or know of. How many have some sort of conflict between the two species? In the grand scehme of literary history, that particular ‘cliche’ is rather recent. Chances are, there are cliches your using that you would never even dare give that categorization to because TODAY they’re not overused. Same goes for the reverse, you may be using a cliche that isn’t popular yet but may become popular by the time your book hits the shelves (if that’s where it’s destine to be). They’re unpredictable, and if you write a work that will stand the test of time then you had better believe that it will definitely change depending on what is popular. (Jane Austen and Emily Bronte would roll over in their graves if they saw Twilight inspired covers on their masterpieces…. but that’s a horse of a different color!)
Most books don’t throw up those ‘caution, caution, CLICHE APPROACHING’ flags until much later after we’ve finished the book and are reflecting/ discussing it with other geeks literary enthusiasts.
I guess it’s time to get down to business since I called you a geek and you’re starting to puff like you did last week when someone wore running shoes with a Leia bikini at the Star Wars convention you spent the last 7 months in anticipation for. (Say that sentence 5 times fast. I haven’t had my coffee yet… get over it)…
Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that if you enjoy the subtle, bleeding art that is writing then don’t be afraid to use cliches. Make them your own, twist them and try to create something new out of something old and borrowed (and blue?) If you are able to give your readers something that they didn’t anticipate and do it so that they fall in love with your idea, then you’re doing your job! True writers never take the easy way out. They sweat, bleed and feel agony over their art. Never allow yourself to put up a barrier between you and your project because readers aren’t stupid, they can sense when you’re holding back. If using cliches or plot bones that seem to be a tad ‘overused’ is the right path for your story, go for it… just be prepared to work even harder on making your story stand out above the competition.
(Who can count how many cliches I used in this post? Anyone? Bueller?)
Here is a really cool little article for writers. By all means check it out and think about the advice that is being given, but if your gut is telling you to stick with breaking the rules- THEN BREAK THE HELL OUT OF ‘EM! 🙂