Cliches, hmmh…I’m sure you have heard of the word like a million times. What exactly is a cliche? A cliche can refer to an overused phrase or expression. You know, the one you used to write in compositions, “My heart beat fast like the West African tom tom drums .” Remember now? Well, the worst thing about writing a cliche is making your audience reading that cliche.
In this post, we will be looking at it as an overused plot idea. Apart from driving people crazy, cliches dilute your story. By relying on old ideas, you deny yourself a challenge of creating something more. Besides, you become a lazy writer.
Let’s look at some of the cliches people normally use:
Abusive or absentee parents
This storyline has been used so many times, that every time you read such, you can’t help but growl. Most of the time, they end up finding each other and forgiving and all that jazz.
The love triangle
well, you have read this too. Two lovesick puppies vying for the same girl or dude. She then ends up choosing the one they have had the obvious chemistry with, and they live happily ever after. Sigh! This is common in romance novels. For once I would like a twist. Maybe fall in love with someone who he/she thinks is the right guy, then ends up being the wrong guy, but she/has to live with the choice anyway? Hmmh…
Yep, romance novels are notorious for this as well. There just has to be a man (they are mostly men), who is the only person that can make the situation better or the world better. It could be a story in a small town, but they just have to involve the whole world in it.
The woman of steel
This one is usually tough as nails, can make grown men cry and hates them…a lot. Apparently, one of them did something in her childhood which made her grow up to hate men. This storyline makes me…and a whole lotta people out there want to roll their eyes. Advice? Please stop.
The love at first sight
This one is the typical, I was walking on a bridge, or playing basketball with my friends, shirtless, then I turned (slow motion), my eyes wide open (in slow motion) and I saw you walking and smiling with your friends (also in slow motion). Then viola! We fell in love.
The obvious happily ever after
Okay, I must say that I love happily ever afters like the next chick. Who doesn’t? After all, mapenzi yanarun dunia. There is enough evil in the world to last us millennia. It is nice to know that in literature, there is hope that good will prevail over evil. Readers don’t hate happily ever after stories, they just dislike the obvious ones. The ones you can tell after reading the first page or the blurb.
The tall, dark and handsome dude
Well, apart from being TDH, he is rich and has a six-pack. His sweat also smells like cinnamon. The girl he is after is usually poor and has a bad past. (insert eye roll) This is a common stereotype that waters down your writing from the get-go. Move away from this and create a character that the reader can relate to.
Cliches were not always cliches. They were once fresh ideas. The real challenge should be how to tell the same story differently. Challenging, right? Yes, it is, but the good thing about creative writing, the fulfilment is in creating awesome plots from already known storylines.