Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Avoiding Cliché in Fiction

For as long as humans have existed, we have had stories. Be they campfire tales, cave drawings, or novels, we've had 'em. And as long as there have been stories... there have been clichés.
Over the years, people have adopted a "cliche is bad" motto, which isn't entirely true. But of course, a lot of people want to advice on how to generally avoid cliches... so here are my essential tips for avoiding cliches. But remember: A rose by any other name is just as cliche!

  • When making characters, avoid Mary Sue and Gary Stu. These are your perfect characters, with no flaws, and zero personality. These lovely people are usually why you end up with people saying "ew cliche". When making your characters, let them develop over time. Give them a backstory, maybe even a totally normal one, and don't give them a horrible story like 'their mother tried to kill them'. If you do decide to give them an emotional backstory, don't turn around and say your character is a strong and independent person. Maybe they have trust issues, but they certainly aren't perfect. They're probably emotionally scarred for life. Maybe they're depressed. Perhaps they self harm. Make them real, make them suffer, make them need.
  • Don't read a book and copy it. Don't copy Twilight if you're doing vampires, and don't copy Halloween if you're doing horror. Make sure your story is totally, one hundred percent unique and made by you. Sometimes it will take a long time to make a good, unique plot. But in the end, it's worth it, right?
  • Remember that you should write for you and not a target market. Sure, if you wanna sell tons, write for your niche. But also remember that Stephenie Meyer wrote a story she wanted to know - it wasn't the best thing ever, but because she really wanted to know it, others did too. This is because you are not one in a seven-billion. There are others like you. Whether it's cliche or not, write for yourself. Sure, give that vampire sparkly skin and flippy hair. Sure make her swoon over him even though they've never met. Do all these things and more, if it makes you happy. I know this goes against the title of my post, but that's all writing is - don't let anyone deter you from it.

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