Monday, August 30, 2010

Woe is Me (Awkward Writing 5)

Welcome back for the 5th and final installment of my Awkward Writing series, where we will be discussing a more broad subject: breaking cliches.

As a reminder, anyone who comments on the series posts (previous or future) will be entered into a giveaway. The giveaway will be announced on the last series post. If you make multiple comments, you receive multiple entries. Max 5 entries via comments. But...

1) If you shout out the series (FB, Twitter, Blog, etc.), you get 1 entry. Please only 1 mention for the entire series. Please also supply the shout out link in your comment.

2) If you create a post linking back to my page, or one of the posts in the series, you receive 2 entries. Please supply the post link in your comment.

That is a total of 7 entries total you can have put in the pot. Don't forget to supply those links to your blogs or social media shout outs. You must supply them to be granted the point(s).


So, it's been an interesting ride with all the comments made across the Awkward Writing series. Thanks to all who've participated. We have a good 20 plus commenters, each ranging with various entries. The series will officially conclude Friday, September 3rd at 5pm EST. The winner will be announced soon after. The prize will be a $10 Amazon voucher, sent via email. Be sure to get your last comments in!

What am I currently doing? Answer: blogging, watching Blue Harvest (the Family Guy Star Wars episode) and drinking Firefly.

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So this is more of a broad subject to end the Awkward Writing series. We're going to discuss breaking cliches in writing. As natural as they feel to write, we each as growing writers try our damnedest to break cliches. All genres have their staple cliches in the various areas: character traits, world elements, plot elements. And the list can go on. The most popular cliches all in genre fiction. The search for magical artifacts, the rise of demon lords, the conquest over treasure bearing planets, et cetera.

So, as growing writers, we are challenged with breaking cliches. Those bestsellers who have come before us have set a standard which can be a "son of a beast." How in the world can you create something fresh? How is it possible to do what hasn't been done?

So I am leaving this topic way open for interpretation. Please share what you can about your journey through breaking the cliche.


  1. Here's my advice, in its simplest form: Interpretation, not idea.

  2. I agree with Amanda: if you looked at the most popular stories, most of them have exactly the same elements, but it's the style of writing or the story that captures your imagination.

    Take POCAHONTAS and AVATAR for example--I believe this is a famous comparison:

    Think about Harry Potter: a seemingly geeky kid who happens to be the one wizard to save them all. Frodo Baggins? a seemingly geeky hobbit who happens to hold the one ring to destroy them all. Clark Kent @ Superman: a seemingly geeky reporter who happens to be the one superhero to save the world.

    The list goes on...if you search deep enough, all well-loved stories have the same traits. It is how you portray it that keeps it from becoming a cliche.

    And I'd sure love if someone could impart that knowledge unto me.

  3. Everything's been done before at this point. Love story, heroic quest, search for the MacGuffin, whatever. All that's left is how you tell the story.

    People love the love/hero/MacGuffin story. There's a reason it has survived centuries of tale-spinning.

    So I say, use cliches, but recognize that you're using them and do something different. The problem comes when you fail to see the cliche, and that's usually a sign of inexperience. I know. I've been there. Heck, I'm still there.

    Fortunately, inexperience is easy to fix. Keep writing.

    Scribbler to Scribe

  4. My biggest issue with cliches in writing is the use of cliche phrases. Some of the other stuff can be made more original by the type of character, situation, world, etc but it's hard to make a common, overused phrase original enough that it doesn't stall me when I'm reading it. Recent example, I read something that said "she started the first day of the rest of her life." And my first thought was "really?" It kept me from moving forward in reading for at least a minute because I couldn't help but wonder if something else would have sounded better and random thoughts of many first days of the rest of our lives that we face. Just didn't work for me as it felt too cliche.

    Since I'm in the first draft stage, I haven't focused too much on avoiding cliches yet in my own writing. I do try to avoid some cliches in characters, stereotypes or at least the overabundance of them in a single character. But it's not easy in general, which is why it's a Rough Draft. lol I can fix that stuff when I edit. Yay for editing! ;-)


"Little by Little, One Goes Far." -- J.R.R Tolkien.

I believe this as a philosophy, from a man who saw war and setback, and conquered all to bring us the greatest fantasy series that has ever been published. Leave your little comment and I'll get back to you.