An Aspiring Writer's Blog Site

walking-cliche-2I was so excited last night. I finally had the opportunity to talk to someone about my story (it really is a rare occurrence). A friend of mine has some of the same attributes of my story’s love interest and I was milking her brain for a few insights. Then I talked to her a little about the story’s love plot. She listened patiently, nodded her head, and said, “Dan, that sounds cliché.”

Ouch.

Curious, I looked on the interwebs for what is considered trite in romance storylines and found I had a couple: husband is the antagonist, and the hero or heroine dies in the end.

Well drat.

I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what is trite and what is not. If something seems trite, I try to put a spin on it. But you know, it’s pretty darn tricky sometimes. It’s hard to create a unique story when there are literally millions of stories that have been told before. Inevitably, you’re going to hit on the same themes, characters, and plots.

And then there is the issue of reader expectations. I posted a few months ago about the Hero’s Journey which espouses there are certain elements that the human mind expects in a story. I believe there is a fine line between what is considered a cliché and what is an expectation or an archetype.

So, what do you guys think? You have any tricks for staying out of the cliché realm? I know reading widely certainly helps. You got any more suggestions?

WIP Update: I have still been working on backstory for my story’s love interest and have made some pretty good progress. This week is going to be tough because I have a complete change of routine. I have a week long certification class (I’m trying to get a grown-up job). We’ll see if I can get any work done. May be tricky.

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7 responses

  1. I run into this a lot when I look at my story in a big picture sense. When you boil a story down to its essence, it does often seem that all stories have similar themes.
    But I think when the writer actually begins to spin the words, the story becomes unique. It is said that if you give a room full of writers the same plot or prompt, each one will write a completely different story.
    I wouldn’t worry about cliches just yet. Your characters, once they take charge, won’t let that happen!

    February 11, 2013 at 7:23 pm

    • Yeah, you are right. I had told my friend only a portion of the plot and I guess out of context it might have sounded cliche.

      Good advice– let the characters take over!

      Thanks for swinging by, Kirsten, I really appreciate it.

      February 11, 2013 at 8:26 pm

  2. I’ve found that the more of yourself you insert into the story, the more authentic it becomes and the less it drifts away from the casual cliches. Cliches are usually the result of a generalized experience. Finding a way to relate to your story, even if the exact experience is not your own, deepens the story in a way that most other tips or tricks can’t.
    –JW

    February 12, 2013 at 2:10 am

    • Sorry, that should read, “the MORE it drifts away from the casual cliches.”
      –JW

      February 12, 2013 at 2:12 am

    • That’s actually good advice. In that case, I should be doing ok. I’m going to remember this as a great rule of thumb. Thanks, jumbled.

      February 12, 2013 at 8:28 am

  3. catherinelumb

    I’ve been rubbish at commenting on blogs recently: but this does resonate with me because I do have a recognised cliché relationship between the doctor and his nurse in my novel. I think those above are right – you can take a clichéd concept and turn it on it’s head by the way you interpret and interact with it.
    If you think about a lot of romantic stories it all boils down to the essential cliché of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back: but it all depends on how engaging your characters are and how they deal with those things that make the story a good read.
    You’ll figure it out Dan, I’m sure. Let us know any secrets of success when you do. ;o)
    Take Care, Cat x

    February 12, 2013 at 5:57 am

    • Heh. you hit it spot on. I was wondering, how do you do a romance without the whole– boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy finds girl again cliche? Yeah, its the characters.

      Thanks for swinging by, Cat!

      February 12, 2013 at 8:31 am

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