1. Laura Mae.
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    Laura Mae. Member

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    Is it a cliche/overused idea to start with a memory?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Laura Mae., Jan 28, 2011.

    Basically, I've started to write a few scenes of what I hope with take the shape of a short story or novel. The story focuses on a soldier who returns from war, and he's suffering from mental illness. Do you think its a cliche to have a memory as the first 'scene'? I wanted to embed some symbolism and meaning in the memory, but I've read lots of stories with dreams and things like that at the beginning, and I don't want this to be cliche. Tell me what you think, thanks. :)
     
  2. vanarie
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    vanarie Senior Member

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    Nothing is cliche if executed properly. If your work is gripping enough people will forget their idiosyncratic hangups.

    -Van
     
  3. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Whether it's cliche depends on how you write it.

    Any beginning must grip the reader, whether through dialogue, action or a gripping conflict introduced by sentence 1....I really hate long infodump beginnings or setting-description beginnings (although there are always exceptions), so as long as your memory will grip the reader, it'll work. Rock it and you'll do great.

    Here's what NOT to do, though. With dreams and memories, try not to use cliche phrases like "Reality hit her," "His head cleared" etc....don't purple-prose it and don't make it seem cheesy...be original :D
     
  4. Cornys
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    Cornys Member

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    Depends on what the memory is about, and that it is more your own creation rather than a re-creation of another's work.
     
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  5. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I always say, it's a cliche for a reason. Better to start with a properly executed cliche than to try so hard to avoid it that you start off with a big WTF that will leave a bad first impression.
     
  6. SashaMerideth
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    SashaMerideth Contributing Member

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    PTSD flashbacks are not cliche especially if done sharply.
     
  7. PapaSmurfberry
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    PapaSmurfberry Active Member

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    you have to be careful, to me at least, to make sure your not writing them to just avoid having to build your characters naturally, but because you think it enhances the story.
     
  8. arron89
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    arron89 Banned

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    It's a massive cliche. Almost as bad as starting with a dream. Avoid it if you can, and if there's absolutely no other way to start your novel, then you better write it so well that people don't even notice that it's a flashback.
     
  9. Wasp
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    Wasp Member

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    This Might Also Be Clichéd Too But What If You Made It Happening In Present Time Then There's A Time Skip To Where He Has P T S D? (Sorry Can't Say The Abbreviation As One Word Without It Becoming Ptsd)
     
  10. PapaSmurfberry
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    PapaSmurfberry Active Member

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    It depends on how you write it, if it is well written it doesn't really matter how cliche it is. The Movie "The Usual Suspects" showed this really well, I remember reading somewhere where the writer said he wanted to use as many cliches as possible, and make it interesting and that is where the movie idea came from. I think he made it work well and the story was great.

    The only thing I think your going to find with that idea, it is going to be rough dealing with that many flashbacks without making it confusing and irritating to the readers. I think 80's sitcoms mastered the use of a flashback, with the perfection of showing squiggly lines right before the sequence while playing harp music. In writing you cannot depend on visual effects, so until we find a way to incorporate cgi into books, it might be a rough write.

    It has been argued there are 3 types of stories man vs. man, man vs. nature, and man vs. himself. If this is true, then how can any story not be cliche. The question ultimately falls to one simple question: how well is the story written. Personally I would suggest not worrying about cliche type questions and focus on the story. Remember, to enjoy your story writing, don't focus so much on the end result. Like Buddha said it is better to travel well, then arrive.
     
  11. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    What is your first sentence?

    It's like wanting to be chief and creating your own menu before you even start cooking and knowing if you can. Many authors can get away with doing certain things because they were able to do it right the first time. Right is dictated by many people outside of us who are not well established writers.

    The kind thing to state is if you can do it right you can do anything, but that's too in general and really people know that.

    I hear that it's a no-no. Don't even bother trying, because it won't work out the way you want it too and it won't be as strong as you hoped it to be.
     
  12. J_Jammer
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    J_Jammer Banned

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    Yes, I know about multi-quote. Sorry.

    That is a good suggestion.

    Or jumping back and forth. Past to present to past to present. Correlation between the two.
     

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