Friday, June 3, 2011

Reading/Writing Cliches

Because I read a lot, I'm usually somewhat knowledgable about what's been done in the world of books, especially young adult fiction and fantasy, the two genres I read the most. Of course, similarities are not the problem; if one or two books have a similar plotline or voice to something that's already been written, there's nothing wrong with that. The thing that annoys me most? Cliches.

Cliche has become a term that can mean almost anything. It can mean an overused expression, an unoriginal character. It can mean a plot that's been done a thousand times or something that's parodied for humor in certain TV shows. (I'm not going to name any names, but if I did, I would name Phineas & Ferb. Not that it's not a great show.)

But I think the thing that annoys me the most isn't plots that are all-around cliche, but little pieces that are used over and over. Subplots, things about character. It drives me crazy. There are many of them, but these are my top three most hated. I advise writers to stay away from them at all costs.

1. The Star Athlete Who Hates Sports
You know the type. They're the most amazing thing to happen in the history of the high school sports team, but for some reason they're not interested. They're amazing, but they want to do something else. The catch? Their father has planned out their life since they were three, won't let them quit because they need a scholarship to college, and they're too spineless to stand up for themselves. They're mostly in movies - "A Cinderella Story" and "High School Musical" come to mind - but also in books. In fact, there's one in the book I'm reading now, which is what originally prompted me to write this post.

2. Girl-Finds-Out-She's-Pregnant-After-Boyfriend-Dies
Doesn't have to be her boyfriend, of course - could be her husband, fiance or the random guy down the street. But as soon as the funeral's over, she realizes that the one night (or several nights) they spent together resulted in her getting pregnant. The first examples that come to mind are the novel "Numbers" (which had about three awesome places where the book could have ended before it even got to this point - and the actual ending wasn't even that good. But I'll save that for another post) and The Last Dragon series by Chris D'Lacey. And of course, it was the entire plotline of Sarah Dessen's "Someone Like You", which was the only time I could actually tolerate it.

3. Platonic Relationships
This is what I hate the most. I understand they happen, but I don't think they happen as often as most books would lead you to believe. I especially hate it when the guy realizes he's in love before the girl and spends half the book pining while she dates someone else. The only time this is ever - EVER - acceptable is when it's Lorelai Gilmore and Luke Danes in Gilmore Girls. Every other platonic relationship in the world needs to disappear forever.

Of course, there is the one cliche that I doubt I will ever get tired of - the one where a couple is formed from two characters who bicker constantly throughout the book and then at the end, realize they're in love with each other. I know it's used a lot, possibly more often than ANY other cliche, but...I just love it.

Off to make sure there are none of these cliches in my own writing,

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