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Is a college frat house too cliche of a setting for a good, original story?

  1. Yes, don't use this setting.

  2. No, you can make it work.

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  1. Teamomo8

    Teamomo8 New Member

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    Is my new setting cliché?

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Teamomo8, Jul 12, 2017.

    Hey guys, I'm new to the community!

    So far I've completed one novel. It was a young adult romance and displayed incredibly overused. cliché characterizations and plotlines. I want to avoid this with my second story (the one I'm trying to formulate now) so I decided to try writing a sci-fi.

    The problem is, I don't think my brain is meant to write sci-fi... at least not yet. My story would involve outer space and travel-by-space-shuttle, and frankly I just don't know enough about the science behind it. I'm willing to do mountains of research, but this is overwhelming for a new writer.

    Then my brain hatched the idea of taking the same characters and mostly same plot from the outer-space sci-fi story and place them in a much more manageable setting-- a university frat house. At first this idea sent me spiraling into writing madness and I fell in love with my story idea again.

    Then I told my mother of this change (I always keep her up to date with my writing) and she sneered and told me it was too unoriginal. I'm so torn! I mean, my characters are all so unique and the plot itself gets crazy so I feel like I might be able to make it work. Then again, is that not what EVERY writer thinks before they riddle their work with annoying clichés?

    tldr; My story was originally going to be crazy sci-fi awesomeness but that got too overwhelming for me, so I decided to place my characters in a college frat setting. Too unoriginal?
     
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  2. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I'd be interested in a story that successfully went from sci-fi shenanigans to frat house shenanigans.

    Try not to worry too much about cliches and originality. Everything is a remix, tropes are not bad, etc etc. Write what you wanna write!
     
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  3. Teamomo8

    Teamomo8 New Member

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    Gah, this has restored a smidge of my confidence. Thank you!!
     
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  4. GuardianWynn

    GuardianWynn Contributor Contributor

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    If it helps to add. A painter is not expected to invent new colors. Tropes and cliche's are our colors! Use them as you like and as you get more practice you will develop a taste and style just like any painter. ;)
     
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  5. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    Sun Tzu said the same thing :)

    There are not more than five musical notes, yet the combinations of these five give rise to more melodies than can ever be heard.

    There are not more than five primary colours, yet in combination they produce more hues than can ever been seen.

    There are not more than five cardinal tastes, yet combinations of them yield more flavours than can ever be tasted.​
     
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  6. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Yeah, what's up with that? There's 11 musical notes and even the basic pentatonic scale added the flat fifth tritone for flavor. It must be a metaphor...
     
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  7. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I am the tropiest troping writer that ever troped and it hasn't hurt me much. IMO It's what you do with those tropes that makes the difference. I've seen writers take the most tired, worn out cliches and turn them into a book that rocked my damn world. Conversely, I've read books with very original settings and premises that left me cold because the actual storytelling just wasn't there.

    Trope on, buddy!
     
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  8. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Haha... you're troping balls!
     
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  9. Laurin Kelly

    Laurin Kelly Contributor Contributor

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    I am! Imma work that Enimies to Friends to Lovers shit until I don't have another word left in me. :D
     
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  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Definitely. Archetypes are forever!
     
  11. Walking Dog

    Walking Dog Active Member

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    Don't let a lack of knowledge in science keep you from writing science fiction. Writing about a space shuttle rocketing into orbit does not mean you have to explain how the engine works. The best way to write science fiction is to make assumptions as to the way things are, or the way you would like them to be. For instance, in the future you create, it might be common knowledge to the characters of your novel that androids have civil rights, but not political rights. Androids aren't allowed to vote or hold office, but you can't bully or rape an android without facing criminal charges. And maybe moon colonies have gravity enhancers to better match the gravitational pull of the Earth, and to keep an atmosphere around the colony. You don't have to explain how this works to the characters because they already know. The reader will get up to speed as the story unfolds, such as a human on trial for taking advantage of an android, or the blaring of a siren when a gravity enhancer begins to malfunction, and everyone struggles to get indoors before complete failure. The imagination works better if it doesn't have to explain the details.
     
  12. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I always here that writers should avoid being cliche'. The reason it bothers me is that all my favorite books and T.V. shows are filled full of them. I've been watching "The Last Ship." There are tons of standard plots and characters in it, but I LOVE that show.

    I recently read "Clash of Eagles." It is a great story. There are a lot of cliche characters in it. I don't think there is anything wrong with it.

    I still eat chicken and rice for dinner every week, even if it isn't creative, I love it.
     
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  13. Arrisu

    Arrisu New Member

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    In total agreement with everybody above! :)

    From my personal experience, family and friends will always find something unoriginal or similar to another story they've heard or seen before. Some less artistic folks don't always realise that inspiration can come from other bits of stories.

    If your character dynamics are fun, gritty and interesting then there shouldn't be any reason why you're book is not good.
     
  14. animagus_kitty

    animagus_kitty Senior Member

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    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_musicology

    The Chinese do not use the western A-G musical notes. :-D so to them, the sounds are divided between five identifiers, rather than seven or eleven.
    At least, as I understand it.

    @OP: Allow me to paraphrase what a friend once told me.

    Tropes are not bad. Tropes are NOT bad. Tropes are NOT BAD. Tropes are tools. Just because something's been done a million times, doesn't mean it's a bad thing. If what you have written is good, it can still have cliches.

    I've worked very hard to avoid the phrase 'because of course it does' in my writing; I don't want anything to happen simply because that's the way things are always done. If the good guys win, it shouldn't just be because they were the good guys; but does that mean the good guys shouldn't win? Not at all. In the same way, just because you've used something cliche, doesn't make that thing bad. Not at all. Just have a good reason for why things turned out the way they did, or why something happened, or why a thing is, and you'll be fine. Probably.

    ((EDIT:: funny thing about n-apostrophe-t. if you forget to put it in, it changes your whole sentence.))
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
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  15. GingerCoffee

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The sci-fi story sounds more interesting to me, but I voted, "No, you can make it work." You need to use the setting that inspires you. That is requirement #1.
     
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  16. TheNineMagi

    TheNineMagi take a moment to vote

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    it's your world, your frat house, --- what's going on in those hallways? people take ideas all the time but at the end of the day its what they do with them.

    ------------------------------------------------

    next time someone gives you an ambiguous answer along the lines of I don't like it, it's cliched, it's unoriginal... challenge it

    what is it you did not like? can you be more specific... how did it not meet your expectation, what would you have preferred? if you can change something what would it be?
    what was cliched about it
    what was unoriginal about it

    your job at this point is to ask questions and try to get something constructive out of it.

    this is like taking your car to the mechanic and saying "it's broken can you fix it?"
    if he's a good mechanic he will ask questions, like what's broken, is there a sound, is it something wobbling or clunking, he will try to narrow things down.

    while the following might be lucrative for a mechanic, it's not exactly what we would expect from them.
    if he's does not ask he might just replace the whole front end of the car, and have you come back in a week with --- it still doesn't work.
    if you keep doing this, he might replace every part in the car; until he finally pushes the on switch for the air conditioner, and miraculously fixes the car.

    in this case you are the mechanic, you can either ask questions, or miraculously fix the car.

    if they do not want to or cannot answer basic questions, would you really want to work on the car, and end up fixing the wrong thing?
    Just hand the keys back and say thank you but there's nothing I can really do here to solve whatever problem you are perceiving.
    -- there would also be no reason to go back in the office crying about not being able to fix the car.
     
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  17. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Potatoes again? Supporter Contributor

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    Yeah, Chinese music is different, and to my ears, rather flat.

    However, to the OP, I'm a big SF fan, but I think you'd run a greater risk of falling into Star Trek cliches if you tried to do SF. I don't think I've ever read anything set in a frat house, so go for it.
     
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  18. 123456789

    123456789 Contributor Contributor

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    It sounds to me like you may not be interested in the "science" so much as you are interested in your plot and characters. If only more would-be writers were able to recognize this about themselves. Write what is important to you and do it by writing what you know. If you wanted to write about actual space travel, you'd be figuring it out. Trust me, there's nothing more unoriginal than going to some website and copying cliche space travel terms, so that you can ultimately focus on drama and characters that could just as easily exist right here in the real world. Props to you.
     
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  19. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Yes. What you ask yourself is WHY. Why do you love a show that's full of cliché? There must be something the writers are doing to make this 'worn out' formula work. That's the key. Not whether or not to use a cliché, but how to make it work.

    @Teamomo8 -
    Perhaps what you should do is try to make your original story better. You might have lost interest in it and want to move on, but it would be a good exercise to identify exactly what you could have done to improve it—even if you don't actually plan to rewrite it.

    I very much doubt that setting it in outer space would solve your plotline/characterisation issues. You've identified these as being clichéd. How would you make these less so? Are your characters either Mary Sues or 'totally Evil?' Is it possible to easily guess where the plot is going and how it's all going to end? That's what to work on. The setting isn't the issue. It's the characters and plot that really matter. Tweak these, so that they're not totally predictible, so that they provide surprises, and I think your cliché problems will disappear.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2017
  20. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Good point.
     
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