1. LimitlessLiterature
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    LimitlessLiterature New Member

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    Are cliches ever workable?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LimitlessLiterature, May 31, 2015.

    Is it possible to make a cliche work? Like a love triangle? If yes, how so?
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cliches become cliches because they work so damn well. So, yes, it's easy to make them work!

    It's just hard to make them feel original. If you're writing a love triangle, for example, try to find a new twist for the old story. Mix up the genders - Love triangles these days always seem to be one girl torn between two guys, but it doesn't have to be that way. Or write one of the rivals for love just walking away from the whole mess, and have the chooser realize that he was the one she wanted and have to win him back. Or have both of the rivals walk away, or fall in love with each other, or whatever. Mix it up a little!
     
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  3. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Yes! They can.

    But like @BayView said, it's how you make them unique.

    Have you ever watched something on TV (or read a scene in a book) where someone awakes in hospital either from a coma or unconsciousness and the first thing they see is a loved one and it's all calm and serene and "hey, there you are, how you doing?" ... cue me almost throwing my coffee at the screen and shouting, "Yeah, right, cliche alert ..."

    So, I had to write the same sort of scene for one of my male characters so from his point of view, the first thing he thinks about is this really weird feeling in his willy which turns out to be a catheter.
     
  4. LimitlessLiterature
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    LimitlessLiterature New Member

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    Great advice! Thank you! The love triangle I was thinking of making is between two guys and one girl with one guy who has feelings for both a guy and girl.
     
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  5. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    That's so 80's.
     
  6. BUDDY GORGEOUS
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    BUDDY GORGEOUS Active Member

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    I've read somewhere that every book you pick up is a cliché, the themes have been done before etc. but it is what you do with the theme or cliché that counts and the characters that you have populated it with.

    There are a million crime books with a million serial killers with a million detectives. There are a million romances... you get the picture.

    So go ahead!

    Personally I love how an author has taken a familiar premise, cliché, whatever and decided to spin it a little, mix it up, do something unexpected or unconventional, something controversial and sweeping the rug from under a readers feet.

    Sorry it's not much help on the romance side of things but as far as clichés go, to hell with it, just release whatever story inside you is desperate to get out.
     
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  7. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    You can take a cliche and re-work it so it feels new. Least that's what I've always heard.
     
  8. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Biggest cliche of them all:"Everything's been done already. It's what you do with them that counts."
     
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  9. ToeKneeBlack
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    ToeKneeBlack Contributing Member Contributor

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    It depends on how well known your cliches are. If you pick one that hasn't been used in a long while, chances are few people will recognize it.

    Then there's the option of changing the cliche a little - for example, the hero has at least 1 dead parent cliche could be viewed from the perspective of the dead parent(s), who encourage their offspring to avenge their death(s). I haven't seen that done before.

    There are also some unforgivable cliches that everyone sees coming, such as defusing a bomb with one second left on the clock, or two strangers falling in love at first sight.
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A story summary is not a cliche. If it must be labelled, it's a trope. As already noted, they recur so often because they work.

    A cliche is a phrase or metaphor so overused or dated that it has lost whatever impact it may once have had. Take it from the horse's mouth, if you're sick as a dog, don't put the cart before the horse. Cliches aren't the greatest thing since sliced bread, and they aren't right as rain.

    Cliches in dialogue can be used to portray a character as trite and unoriginal. Overuse of them outside of dialogue gives the reader that same impression about the writer.
     
  11. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're using only the first definition of the word. But, for example, see: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/cliche where definition two is "(in art, literature, drama, etc.) a trite or hackneyed plot, character development, use of color, musical expression, etc." and three is "anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse."
     
  12. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also a ballet step, I believe.
     
  13. Victoria Griffin
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    Victoria Griffin Member

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    I would say the most important thing in your situation is to make sure the characters are unique and believable. If you are writing a character the reader hasn't seen before, everything he/she does will appear in a new light. If the characters seem flat and worn out, the story will seem that way, too.
     
  14. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    Isn't that plie?
     
  15. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    He's thinking of fencing.
     
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  16. kfmiller
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    kfmiller Active Member

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    Or en cloche, only one letter different, :D
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Lay people use words in sloppy ways, and dictionaries reflect that. Writing is a specialty, and one for which precision in words and their semantics is paramount. The use of cliche for plots is a bastardization of meaning for denigration in the absence of any substantive argument.

    In truth, there is no such thing as a trite story summary (plot is another word that is used in a sloppy way by laypersons, but let's not get into that here). Therefore, using cliche to describe a sequence of events is more than inaccurate. It is highly misleading. It is the treatment of a sequence of events that is either brilliant or shallow, which is to say how it is executed as a story.

    Beware of words that integrate knee-jerk judgments.
     
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  18. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    To me, cliche' are lazy excuses for a writer to complete the story. But if you add a twist in it, it will turn into gold.
     
  19. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Alternatively, language evolves, and writers need to keep up with the evolution!

    ETA: Also, "love triangle" is hardly a story summary. Your comments here feel pedantic. Unless I'm just misunderstanding because I'm a sloppy lay person...
     
    Last edited: Jun 1, 2015
  20. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Good vs evil. It still works
     
  21. matwoolf
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    matwoolf Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cliche is an interminable bastard over sugar bowls layered with an insatiable desire for excretion of purpose beyond all comprehension in the league of noble pursuit railed by layperson Quasi, Quasi , Quasimodo the late President in his gravitas, hic.
     
  22. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah, that's what I was thinking, too.
     
  23. RevGeo
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    RevGeo Member

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    I wonder how Louis Lamour would have answered the OP's question. I think clichés bother editors and writers more than they bother readers. Then again, I could as full of shit as a
    Christmas goose.
     
  24. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    I think it is workable. How? Make it unique and different.

    If you think about it, everything has already been written about. There's no such thing as an original story anymore. What makes some stories more interesting than others is a variety of factors (author's style, diction, structure etc,) but I think the most important factor is HOW the story is told.

    If you can tell a love triangle in a way no one else has, that's your workable cliche. Hell if take ANY love story people have read over hundreds of times (like Romeo and Juliette for example) and tell it how NO ONE has ever told it before, that's your best seller right there.

    The tricky part is finding a unique way to tell a story (I struggle with that a lot.) I mean, it's really almost all been done before. There are very few "firsts" left :(
     
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  25. izzybot
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    izzybot Human Disaster Contributor

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    Well, as we all know, tropes are not bad.

    It's just a matter of reconfiguring plots and tropes and bits and pieces in an interesting way and/or writing it really well. I mean, you can retell the exact same story but if you do it skillfully it's still going to be an enjoyable read. I don't stress over true originality that much. I got cyborgs and laser guns and that makes for fun shenanigans, what else do you need? :>
     
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