1. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    Writing about an overrated subject without sounding cheesy?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by GoldenFeather, Jul 14, 2014.

    Let's say you have to write about something that has been written a thousand times. It's overrated, and people usually roll their eyes, "Not THIS again!". How do you go about writing about a subject without being cheesy or overrated?

    The only strategy that comes to mind is to avoid the use of the most common words that are associated with that particular topic, as these words already carry a certain connotation. For example, if you're writing about "love", I would avoid the use of that word and maybe try to replace it with "human connection" or "romantic tendencies".

    What else could help with writing about an overdone topic without making it sound that way?

    Thanks!
     
  2. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    That sounds like a slick strategy, but the example you've given doesn't. You don't want to sound artificial. XD I guess it's a tightrope.

    Another workaround could be to acknowledge the stereotypes or associated thoughts the reader would have about the topic. Anticipating them and then dispelling them would help the reader dispel them as well, and approach your topic with an open mind. Kind of like those stories where the narrator goes all "I bet you're thinking I'm just another run-of-the-mill spineless girl who gave in to chauvinism. Guess what, I'm my town's only feminist."
     
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  3. Renee J
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    Renee J Contributing Member

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    You could subvert the overdone plot so something else happens. Or just write a good story. I don't think humans (in general) will tire of love stories.
     
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  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    I definitely wouldn't do that. Then all you've done is make your reader do extra work to realize that you're just communicating the same old thing. They'll be more, not less, annoyed.

    If the romantic relationship is a plot twist rather than a central plot theme, then you could jus skip over how it develops--like all those TV shows that, with no warning, show two characters in bed with each other as one of them is answering a phone call about some other element of the plot.

    To generalize this, I guess the idea is that if the process of establishing a situation feels cheesy and overdone, just skip over that and make it already established. As another example, don't show the underling getting more and more annoyed with his obnoxious boss; just show the scene where he betrays that boss. You need enough background for the reader/viewer to say, "Oh. Oh. Well, yeah, he always did treat him pretty badly," but you avoid the piling up of, "How much more can he put up with?!"
     
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  5. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    I was referring more to articles and editorials.
     
  6. Bryan Romer
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    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

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    It is only cheesy if the sentiments and events unthinkingly follow the conventions established by writers of that genre. It is the characters and how they respond to an interesting and hopefully novel situation that make the story different and fresh. For instance, I wrote a short story a while ago where Romeo (of Romeo and Juliet) discovers that he is into BDSM style play. Disgusted with himself, and fearing for Juliet's safety he tries to break off their relationship.
     
  7. Chad Lutzke
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    Chad Lutzke Member

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    You'll need to approach it from a completely different angle. One that you haven't heard of before...like a "what if?" I'm not a fan of cliches and tend to stray from the norm as well as from trends when dealing with movies, music, etc. However, recently I came up with a great idea for a short story but it happen to be a "zombie" story. Initially I was disappointed that I would even bother writing something about zombies considering it's such a trend at the moment, but I finished it, was very proud of it and was actually able to get it published. I never mentioned the word zombie in my story but people knew what I was alluding to.


    ~Chad Lutzke
     
  8. bythegods
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    bythegods Banned

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    I agree, the 'L' word is overused - and because I'm so familiar with seeing 'love', the word holds no excitement for me.

    Personally - I'd look for a deeper meaning; seek subtlety and detail. 'Love', in English is an all encompassing term, and you could write a whole lot describing just one strand. Have you tried drawing on personal experiences for inspiration?

    Its also interesting to read up about the taxonomy of love: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Love

    I particularly admire how the Ancient Greeks had more precision and had many words to describe different types of love. Eros may actually be the type of love you are referring to, so I would research texts and poems based on this emotion for examples to see how it can be described artfully.
     
  9. daemon
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    daemon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The Four Loves explores in great detail the different types of love that the Greeks named, as mentioned by @bythegods .

    In a nutshell:
    affection - feeling of closeness based on familiarity or instinct
    friendship - bonding over a shared interest
    eros - romantic love
    charity - unconditional desire to value someone else above yourself

    I have been cooking up an idea for a psychological thriller with strong psychological horror elements, in which an evil being manipulates people in order to feed on their love, and it can distinguish very clearly between the different types of love. If I do it right, then it will address a subject that might be called "overrated" (though I think the term "trite" more accurately represents what @GoldenFeather is trying to avoid) and it will analyze it from unprecedented interesting angles.

    Now I am noticing a pattern in the themes I choose to pursue: I go for themes that may be trite ("love" in one story and "loneliness" in another) but I use fantastic elements to warp reality just enough to approach the themes from angles that are so unique that they are inherently interesting:
    • The story about "love" is about an evil being that steals love. The being uses a complex cyclical process to accomplish this, which involves disguising as people, murdering people, and building up people's love and trust just to tear it down.
    • The story about "loneliness" (along with a host of other "trite" themes, including alienation, marginalization, and being forgotten) is about a character who cannot be remembered by anyone.
    So I guess I would recommend brainstorming ways to write a story that warps reality just enough to provide an entirely new perspective and new significance to a "trite" theme.

    One of my favorite examples of this is It's a Wonderful Life. If the theme of "one man's life touches so many others" is "trite" or "cheesy", then that is not a problem for the story because it explores the theme by warping reality by allowing a man to see what the world would be like if he had never been born.
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2014
  10. GoldenFeather
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    GoldenFeather Active Member

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    I appreciate all the answers, but again I wasn't referring to story writing. I am referring to editorials and articles.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    That leads me to the question of why you're writing about a topic that you see as overdone. If there's nothing new to say about it, it seems to me that the solution is to refrain from writing about it.

    If you've been assigned to write about it whether you like it or not, I guess I'd need to know more about the situation. Is it for something like a dictionary or encyclopedia where thoroughness and accuracy, rather than originality, are called for? Is it a side paragraph on your way to the real topic? Are you required to address the topic at a general level ("Finding love") or can you find a smaller subtopic ("You love him but you hate soccer-what to do?").

    Details. I need details.
     

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