So all writers know cliches are bad, right? I mean, we all know not to start out stories with "once upon a time" and we know to avoid phrases like "disappeared into thin air," "wearing his heart on his sleeve," etc. Sometimes I find myself using one, but I usually catch it and change it to something more unique.
However, it took me awhile to learn about the dreaded, subtle foe of a writer: Plot Cliches.
To show what I mean, I'll be using a list from the new book by Jill Williamson and Stephanie Morill "Go Teen Writers." It's an excellent book for anyone, not just teenagers.
- The Love Triangle (I have started a war against Love Triangles. I REFUSE to put a love triangle in any novel I write. You can get enough angst out of just two characters, why add a third? Love Triangles are one of my biggest writing peeves ever! Especially in adventure novels! *cough cough Suzanne Collins*)
- The line, "Don't you die on me!"
- A story about the chosen one.
- A prophecy being fulfilled.
- Prologues with an abandoned baby.
- Portals to another world. (Hmm...define 'portal.')
- The sequel where the couple has split up and must be reunited. (I can't stand these too! I mean, I'm no expert, but I did not have Hail and Ember split up in 'Hail Frost' and I still managed to get plenty of drama out of their relationship. Sloppy conflict, that's what it is. Can you tell I just adore romance? *eye roll*)
- The magical item of great importance. (I've done this...)
- Prologue that happens many years before your story begins.
- The best friend falls in love with the main character.
- The fake death. We saw him die, but... he's alive! (ANOTHER peeve of mine. I like Bryan Davis, but he does this ALL THE TIME! I have vowed to never ever ever bring a character back from the dead, or try to explain away a death because of his books. I feel kinda bad about it though. I keep getting asked by all these little eleven year olds (plus my Grandma! o_O) if I plan on bring Coal back. I give them all the same answer. Nope.)
- A character goes to a magic school of some kind. (Harry Potter wannabes!)
- The minority sidekick OR comic relief sidekick.
- The evil other woman, ex-wife, parent, etc.
- A retired guy called back into service because he is the ONLY ONE who can get the job done.
- The bad guy who is really the main character's parent.
- The minor character that's planning to retire. You know he is going to die...and he does!
- Big guys are dumb and oafish. (I've done this one too...)
- Just before the big battle someone says, "Are you ready?" And the hero says, "I was born ready."
- The evil dark lord of whatever. (Ha. Ha. HA!)
- Main character is tutored by the old man. (Proud to say I've never broken this one! )
- The rakish hero who falls for the virginal heroine. He's a heart-breaker, but now he's met the one woman who can tame his wild heart. Yeah. Sure.
- The bad guy could have killed the good guy but he monologues instead, giving the hero time to get away. (In my defense, though Sicreet enjoyed monologuing, the hero never got away or escaped or whatever because of it. All I did was terribly obvious cases of exposition to get information to the hero because I was too lazy to think of a more creative scene. No big deal.)
- The couple that hates each other at the beginning but end up together by the end of the novel. (C'mon, Ember only hated Hail before she knew who he was!)
- The plain girl who gets a makeover and all of a sudden she's gorgeous and all the guy's love her. (Barf.)
- The dying man's line, "Tell my wife and kids I love them!"
- The orphan who turns out to be someone really important. (Well....)
- Super important places always have REALLY simple names with a capitalization because the author thinks that makes it suddenly cool and epic. Stuff like The Curse, The Cathedral, The Mountain, The Weight, The Realms....
- The super fiery, headstrong heroine who falls in love by the end of the novel. And this suddenly cures her need for control and freedom.
Whatever you do, creativity is what fuels a novel. If readers can spot too many of these cliches, they will know you aren't being creative. That's lazy writing. Subconsciously, they'll think, "Well, if the author was too lazy to care about the story, why should I?"
Maybe I'm too paranoid about this. This has just (lol) been a hard pill to swallow for me.
Now if you excuse me, I'm going to edit out the manaical cackles Sicreet was so fond of in Ember Flame. Maybe that'll help. WHy don't I go ahead and give him a pink tux too? I've never read about a villain with a pink tuxedo! XD