Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Cliche Conundrum and Cally!

Hi there! Happy Hump Day. Almost there. Weekend's right around the corner. Actually, this is my weekend. I always work Saturdays and Sundays, so mid week is my time to chill.

Oh so back to my blog title. Cliche conundrum, you ask? I'll explain. But first, I'd love to introduce you to my blogger buddy, Cally Jackson's, cover reveal for her debut, The Big Smoke.


Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane for uni. Will they survive life in the big smoke or crumble under the pressure?

Doesn't it sound great? I know Cally is uber excited about it's upcoming release. 

You can find Cally Jackson on her website here. She is super sweet (and also expecting her first baby soon.)
She's on Twitter.  And GoodReads.   And just click on the cover above to get to the book on Goodreads and learn more. 

Here's what I mean with cliche conundrum, so tell me what you think, oh wise and witty bloggers.

Every writer knows that using cliches in our writing is taboo. If we can't think of original ways to say things, then what's the point, right? Well, I'm not just talking about the way something is said. I'm talking about the story cliches that agents warn us about. For instance, a MG story with an MC who is a subject of a prophecy, or one who mysteriously gets magical powers. Or a YA story with an MC who moves to a new town where there are magical powers. Or one who has dead parents. 

Yes, these ideas have been done many times, and well-read people are tired of seeing them. But what about the child or teen who is picking up a story for the first time? It's not cliche to them. It's brand new, and maybe everything after that story will seem cliche. So while, I get what agents are trying to say with overdone plots, I also think there's a flip side. Especially in writing for kids. 

In the adult world, this is entirely different. Because we HAVE read just about everything. But there's a reason cliches are cliches. Because they work. Now, I'm not saying we should use them without any thought, but I am opening up the debate that maybe some cliches are okay with the right spin. If done in a clever way, they can work. And in some cases, can be a formula for success. 

What do YOU think? And don't forget to stop by and say hi to Cally.  

23 comments:

Suzi said...

The cliche thing is tough. And sometimes you can't work around them.

For instance, the popular mean girl. If she is the one that makes your MC's life hell, you need her. And she won't be effective as the unpopular mean girl, because the unpopular mean girl won't have that power over her peers. And sometimes for the antagonists you don't develop their story because your novel's about the MC. So you don't get into those details of the antagonists life to un-cliche them.

But everybody says the popular mean girl is so overdone. What do you do?

Story cliches don't bother me that much. I'll notice them, especially if most of the characters follow cliches, but it doesn't affect how I feel about the story necessarily.

J. A. Bennett said...

I think as long as you present that cliche in an original light, it doesn't matter, because you are making it new :)

T. Drecker said...

I normally don't have a problem with anything cliche. Even folklore and myths carry the same ideas again and again.

Rhiann Wynn-Nolet said...

Interesting post-I think it's true that there's nothing "original" in terms of story line, only less or more compelling ways to retell something. YA does give us more leeway, in terms of perceived "freshness" lol. Didn't get to your blog during GUTGAA but I'm here now for Follow-Swap. Come say hi if you get a chance.
http://rhiannwynnnolet.blogspot.com/

Johanna Garth said...

I try to avoid cliches, if possible and when pointed out by my editor. In the last book I found myself trying to come up with a substitute for the shark infested water cliche and all I could think of was a kid squeezing a hamster to death which isn't a cliche but very much based on worries for my son's new pet!

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Cally is all over today!
That makes sense. It's only cliche after we've seen it many times.

Jess said...

Cool cover and nice thoughts on cliches! By the way, I saw that THE DESIREE got a request in GUTGAA~ so excited for you!

Sharon Souter said...

I think people are often drawn to and find comfort/enjoyment in the familiar so a cliche presented the right way can be very powerful. Its not literature but I always think of George Lucas who said he took all the cliches that had entertained him in his youth (Robin Hood etc) and created Star Wars. The next 'big thing' will also be a re-working of what existed in the past.

Jeigh said...

I think if you have something that might be cliche (like the dead parent thing) there has to be a solid reason for it to be that way. If there is, it doesn't bother me. Otherwise, it just looks like lazy writing.

jamieayres.com said...

I agree with you on cliches. Seeing this book cover all over today:-) Not sure if you've already done this but I tagged you in the Next Big Thing hop on my blog today~cheers!

Cally Jackson said...

Thanks so much for helping me reveal my cover with a big splash! I agree about the cliches. If they work in your novel and the characters themselves feel real and not cliche, then I say go for it! :-)

Trisha said...

Cally's cover is great!! I am crossing my fingers for her book's great success! :)

As for cliches, yeah it is a tough one - but I agree with you that if done with a unique spin, they can work just fine. I think it's when a thoroughly "done" story is basically regurgitated verbatim that you have a problem.

fOIS In The City said...

Loved this post and will give Calle a visit. Cliches? Yes, often they actually do belong ... or you can put them with rewording ...

"To hell in a trash bag."

"He gave it to me chapter and bibliography."

A bit of rewording or often I use them and have the character couch it for the reader :)

Elizabeth Seckman said...

Harry Potter was an orphan and it seemed to work for JK Rawling.

Robin said...

Great question PK. I'm having fun reading everyone's opinion on the topic. I am still in my mainly avoid phase, but as far as story lines-some of them just work, so as long as we put a new spin on them right?

Barbara Watson said...

Interesting. When I teach writing to students, I often use a poem that talks about 'don't write about the moon, too many people write about the moon. Write about a radish.' It really gets them to *think.*

katherineamabel said...

Hi there, and thanks for joining the Follow-Swap Blog Hop! If you're tweeting your involvement, @ me (@katherineamabel) and I'll RT you. Cool blog too; lots of interesting stuff here and you've got loads of reader comments etc so well done!
Kat

Catherine Stine said...

First of all, congrats to Cally.
As far as cliched storylines, as my agent for kids' fabric designs used to tell me (back when I designed kids' fabrics) "Give me a Teddy bear but with a totally new twist." That is to say, sure there are tried and true plot lines like the love triangle but if you give it a new spin, it can still be original. Of course the best policy is to come up with a breathtakingly new concept!
Catherine Stine’s Idea City

Michelle said...

to me, sometimes a cliche reads like a punctuation mark in the right spot - it just works. bring back the cliche LOL

Alice said...

Sometimes I get so worried about avoiding cliches that it gets in the way of my story. I think using some cliches are okay as long as you do something a little different or twist it in a new way.

Donna Yates said...

Now, that's a different cover. The book looks interesting.
Ah, yes, cliches. How tempting to put them everywhere because it's easy writing. Nice post.

LTM said...

woo hoo! Best of luck to Cali! Sounds like a great book. And you are so right about the cliches. I guess the best way to fight against them is turn them inside out, yes? Sometimes that can actually make for a great story! :o) <3

William Kendall said...

That cover looks good!

I think with a cliche, as long as you're putting a fresh spin or twist on the subject matter, you're good.