Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Be Careful Of The Cliche'

I thought I would start with the definition of cliche today to set the theme.


[klee-shey, kli-] Show IPA
a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser,  or strong as an ox.
(in art, literature, drama, etc.) a trite or hackneyed plot, character development, use of color, musical expression, etc.
anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse. 
We talk about being too cliche all of the time, and yet, time and time again, I see submissions that scream cliche. Authors are using stereotypical characters, plots that scream over-done and certainly, in the romance genre, phrases that just make readers want to gag. In all honesty, with a market this flooded with authors all competing for the same few slots in publisher's lists, or even those of you trying to stand out as self-published authors, doing what everyone else is doing is not going to help you!

Of course, every time I bring this up, I am bombarded with comments such as "Come on Scott! You know there are a limited number of plots and ideas out there." Not quite! Sure, there are common themes we can tap into, but that's not what we're talking about here. Let me give you a few examples:
  • The heroine giving up her business career to run a small town bakery even though she has no expertise.
  • The heroine who, out of the blue, decides to just become a private investigator.
  • The hero coming across the heroine in her "city clothes" with car trouble on the side of the road.
  • The gay/lesbian/party animal best friend.
I think you get the idea here.

The point is, when a reader starts into your book and within the first three chapters (if that) can tell you exactly what the whole story is going to be about, you are working with cliche.

One of my authors was working recently on a story where the heroine was stuck in a precarious situation. OF COURSE she fell and OF COURSE she landed on the hero in OF COURSE a slightly embarrassing position.  We took the scene out. Why? This is something we see over and over again and, although the scene was funny and the lines she used worked well, it was simply too much.

Look we can use common themes for our books and that's fine! We can have the Beauty and the Beast theme. We can use the Ugly Betty theme in our stories. But be careful crossing that line.

So, tell me those cliches that you could rip your eyeballs out if you see it written again? No author names or titles here!

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