1. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    Farmboy to Hero (Cliche or No?)

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Cerrus, Mar 1, 2012.

    So I just had a story idea, and yes it follows the regular farmboy to hero type of tale. But what do you guys think? Are these plots too cliche? Let the conversing commence!
     
  2. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Yes.

    No.

    Sometimes.

    All of the above.

    You want conclusive? Write it! No one can tell you if a story is cliche until it's on the page. A cliche theme can be given a fresh twist, and a fresh idea can be treated in a hackneyed fashion. The proof is in the pudding.
     
  3. CheddarCheese
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    CheddarCheese Contributing Member

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    Hi Cerrus,

    This is kind of like asking "If I go swimming, will I drown?"
    Well, it depends on how well you swim, where you're swimming, how long you're swimming, the conditions of the water, and about a billion other things.

    "Is a farmboy to hero cliche?" has similar answers. It depends on the writing, it depends on the plot, it depends on the character, it depends on how your character ends up a hero, and about a billion other factors. Your plot outline is much too broad to figure out if its cliche or not. If you have any additional details about your story idea, they might help!

    Cheers.
     
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Plots are not cliche. A plot that is frequently employed is heavily used because it works. Every writer will treat it differently.

    It works for Star Wars: A New Hope. It also works for Flank Hawk, written by WF member TW Erwin. These stories are very different.
     
  5. Pink-Angel-1992
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    Pink-Angel-1992 Active Member

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    It's your story, your idea so write it however you want. It doesn't really matter how good your idea is, it's how good your writting is and how you tell the story. You could have a wondrous idea, but if how you write it and/or tell your idea isn't that good then it doesn't matter. If your idea seems boring, but you write it well and/or tell the story that brings the reader into the story and entrance them then you've done a good job. Therefore, if you want to write about a farmboy becoming a hero, do it, don't worry about it being a Cliche, overdone or whatever, just write your idea and make seem as different as possible.
     
  6. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Think of it like this: is a portrait a cliche kind of painting? Maybe yes, but it doesn't matter. A child, asked to paint a portrait, might produce a stick figure. Leonardo da Vinci, given the same task, would paint the Mona Lisa. It's not the subject; it's what you as an artist bring to it.

    Write your farmboy-to-hero story. Make it the best it can be. If you do it well, it will be a damn fine work of literature and you will be proud of it.
     
  7. Cerrus
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    Cerrus Senior Member

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    Thanks for the information guys! I used to read a lot of stories that followed this concept and always loved them, but didn't know before if it was frowned upon by others. I'm not sure if my writing will complement it or not. Perhaps I'll post some of it on the forums here if I ever get to writing it. I would explain more of the story but it would take literally forever.
     
  8. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Cerrus, if it's the story you want to write, write it. A solid story will sell itself/attract readers. As Cogito indicated above, it (farmboy to hero) worked for me. It worked for Star Wars. If I accurately recall, for one of the books in the Shannara series, maybe even for Saberhagen's Book of Swords series (I can't remember if the main character did any farming--but he was the son of a blacksmith). I'm sure there are plenty of other examples that worked. There are probably even more that didn't work. You'll never know unless you write your story!

    Good luck moving forward.
     
  9. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    One of my story ideas involved an escaped slave turning into a hero.

    Write the story, see if it'll work.
     
  10. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    Random further examples:

    A Horse and his Boy
    The Wheel of Time series
    The Marvelous Land of Oz

    And if we extend it to "ordinary person faces adventure, becomes a hero, and changes his life" there are infinitely more, including:

    The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe
    A Wrinkle in Time
    The Last Starfighter (movie)
    Harry Potter
    The Hobbit
    Romancing the Stone (Movie)
    Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV/Movie)
    Men In Black (Movie)
    Almost every superhero story

    And on and on and on.

    ChickenFreak
     
  11. superpsycho
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    superpsycho Contributing Member

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    You can call it cliche or simply popular. The nobody to hero or underdog fighting back theme has been one of the most popular throughout history. That's because in the enormous reality of life and the universe we all feel like underdogs and would like to break out of that feeling. People do it in different ways. The easiest is simply to read about it, and live it vicariously through the characters. It instills a little hope sometimes, maybe even instills just enough courage to go out and embrace life a bit.
     
  12. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    Sounds like Rand and friends from The Wheel of Time.

    Sounds like Thrall from Warcraft.

    Sounds like Superman.

    Sounds like a dozen other things. But who cares? All the things that matter about the stories are completely different. Do what you want.
     
  13. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    Didn't Cogito once have a template that said, "A story concept means nothing, I can tell you now it's all be done before. What matters is how you put your unique spin to it."

    Regular, average dude who rises to save the world. That's been done before, a lot. All the readers care about is how you put your own unique spin to it.
     
  14. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    A cliche, no. Something used often? Yes. Too often? Depends.

    What makes the farmboy-to-hero plot a great tool for writers is that it naturally incorperates conflicts and trials. The strength of such a topic is that there's a lot to draw your ideas from, and there's still an infinite amount of space for originality. Beyond that, there's still room for twists and turns in plotlines, supporting characters, anything your heart desires.

    The problems? Since it's been done, there do tend to be repeated plot ideas and characters. First off, the main character tends to be one of a virtuous soul, kind heart, so on and so forth. Whats wrong? It's an unrealistic character; one without flaws can hardly be considered "human," or any other living creature for that matter (Dieties excluded). A flawed character's needed to make the character real. And no, being an orphan isn't a character flaw. Eragon, Luke, Harry, and more coming for sure, all of them are orphaned. I'm not saying an orphan is any better off, but beyond parental care, they're not exactly disadvantaged either.

    Second, the ones they connect with are almost always hermits who just happen to be these powerful forces. Assuming a troubled past or amnesty, connections to such people can be possible, but unless if the hermit is sitting there, waiting out such people to grow over years until he can reveal himself, then such a course of action is extremely hard to believe. And beyond that, giving up decades of your life for a single hope isn't a practical strategy, when a hermit could instead act as either a spy or sabeteur.

    Not to say that these can't be used, but there needs to be reasoning beyond the surface, otherwise the story will be a 2-dimensional cliche. If it's an original idea with a neat twist, then you'll be fine.
     
  15. jc.
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    jc. Contributing Member

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    I have a side story with a runaway princess. Very cliche but I don't care.
     
  16. Protar
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    Protar Active Member

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    Yes farmboy to hero is incredibly cliche. What's important is that you make it different and put your own spin on it. Personally I'd be a bit skeptical about a book which could be summed up like that and I'm steering well clear of it in my own fantasy WIP, but it can be made to work. Perhaps make it a bit more realistic, and go for a self-made man sort of vibe so he rises high through charisma and political maneuvering, rather than being the subject of some prophecy, or turning out to be surprisingly skilled in combat despite never having picked up a sword before.
     
  17. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Probably its better to ask yourself why you're going the farmboy to hero route. Do you have some new insight to teach your readers that requires this often used, often predictable, and often unimaginable (all definitions of the word cliche) story arc? Or are you using it to fulfill some mary sue complex (Eg. see any teen vampire novel)?

    Ex 1. farm boy is stupid, illiterate, and simple minded. It turns out he is heir to the throne. He becomes King and by the end of the novel we realize circumstances are not what makes a great individual. Being rich and powerful doesn't change a normal person, who will abuse and often destroy any unique circumstance he is put in.

    Ex 1 I feel is not so cliche as example 2.

    Ex 2. Farm boy is a poor, mistreated person with a strong heart. He's never been taught the finer principals in life but follows them in his heart. Somehow through the help of others (who somehow know he is special) he performs special feats, never losing his humble and at times simple attitude. The other characters (who had to work for their significance) are the ones to exude personality whereas the farm boy just soaks up these attributes, because for whatever reason everything revolves around him, including some unbelievably hot girl or three as in the case of Wheel of time.

    CLICHE!
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Don't knock the farmboy to hero theme. It's a great theme, a close relative of Coming of Age.

    Another familiar example is Clark Kent/Kal-El. He was born with his Kryptonian physiology, but his strength of character is from his farm upbringing and moral guidance from Jonathan and Martha Kent.

    It's not the theme, it's what you do with it.

    Much as I may dislike certain popular examples of particular themes (e.g. all the angsty vampire teen romances) there are no cliche themes. Only unimaginative treatments.
     
  19. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    It's overused, but don't let that hesitate you. Change it up a bit, and you'll have a great story. It's just HOW it's used that makes it cliche. It's a great tool for other sources of character.
     
  20. modus
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    Wow, well said. Think I found my signature already.
     
  21. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is used a lot so here is the clincher, do it badly it will be a cliche, but write it well and readers won't care.

    A cliche is basically a poorly written story that uses a device that can be used very successfully.
     
  22. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A cliché is a phrase or metaphor that has been so overused it has lost all meaning or impact.

    Tired stories and themes are not cliché. They are merely so poorly written that the only thing the reader sees is a bland echo of other stories following similar patterns.

    Calling everything flat and dull a cliché is a cliché.
     
  23. Whirlwind
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    It's a very interesting point, and I'll tell you why.

    What you're really talking about is the maturation of an innocent.

    Now Kal Bashir has deconstructed EVERY Academy Award Winner Best Film over at http://www.kalbashir1.blogspot.com/

    Guess what he's found?

    EVERY Academy Award Winner Best Film has an innocent archetype who matures.

    The innocent is not always the main character and is not always represented as a farmboy and is not always male. But that archetypes is always there.

    It's even there in The Artist (Peppy Miller).

    So it's not cliche. It's just the way you tell it.
     
  24. LittleWaterLily
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    I think everyone likes to read about the ordinary person making it in life. It'd be pretty boring hearing about the spoiled brat who got what he wanted, wouldn't it? Most people like reading about someone they can identify with.

    Not a cliche!
     
  25. shangrila
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    In a broad sense, yes, it's cliched. That sort of story began (somewhat) with Robert Jordan and has continued on ever since, so there will be similarities.

    The main difference you can make is not having your characters be Gary Stus or Mary Sues. Farm boys don't magically become epic swordmasters, and yet that's what always seems to happen in stories like Eragon or anything Terry Goodkind ever wrote. To put it even simpler, just make the farm boy real. When he goes to war, he's going to be scared. He's going to be raw, rough around the edges, and even with experience will probably always be that way, seeing as he never had the same training a swordmaster might have. He probably won't be socially graceful, especially around people that have spent most of their lives in those kinds of situations. A character like that, with real flaws and identifiable weaknesses, wouldn't be cliched.
     

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