Writing Saturday; Same Old Same Old

9:43 AM

Dragons are bad. Guys in black are the enemy. Kids that are chewing bubble gum are rude. Being out in the moonlight is romantic. People with glasses are smart and read a lot. These are clichés, something that has been used so much to represent or convey something that virtually everyone knows it.

Most people think clichés are a bad thing. The prevailing advice among authors today is to avoid clichés at just about any cost. No one picks up a book to read the same old things that they have always read, do they? We as authors need to be creative, change things around, and never use clichés. I disagree with this, at least in part. Please, allow me to explain.

In today’s culture there is a lot of blurring of the lines between good and bad. Things that always represent evil such as dragons, witches, men in black, and the like are being made out to be our helpers, friends, and the good guys. Things that have always represented “good” are made out to be stupid, boring, and the bad guys. Sometimes clichés define right from wrong, good from evil, and those clichés should not be messed with often.

Clichés are not always a good thing. I know that, but if we don’t want to use them, we have to be careful. I cannot tell the number of books I have had to put down because the author was so interested in breaking clichés that they became dangers. They were so intent on making their story new and different that they put their characters in moral dilemmas where there was no right thing left to do.

Now with that said, we have to be careful how much we use clichés. What we do want are books and stories to be unique and different so that people will read them. No one wants to read the same story just in different settings. We as readers want something new, something exciting, something to captivate us and carry us off to some far and different place.

What do you think about clichés? I haven’t exhausted the subject by any means, so what is something important that I missed?

Would you like to write for Writing Saturday? Just send our submissions to me at thedestinyofone@yahoo.com and I will get back to you as soon as I can.

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  1. I'm part of the group that avoids cliches like the plague (hah, just kidding with that last part). However, I do see your point. I don't think Christian authors should compromise their standards, so they shouldn't do so in the name of being 'original'.

    But instead of blurring the line between evil and good, you could just avoid the cliche in its entirety. What I mean is don't use it at ALL.

    Why do you have to use a dragon, good OR bad? Why not create your own creature (if you write fantasy/science fiction)? Why does the villain in your book have to wear black? Maybe he's an arsonist, and he wears red instead, because the color reminds him of power and flames.

    Ugh, did that make any sense? ;)