Originality/clichésJuly 1, 2009 at 2:39 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments
Ooh, this whole thing is contentious. But never being one for subtlety or tact, I’m just going to dive in at the deep end with my opinion.
One thing which seems to be a big thing in the writing world is the avoidance of clichés and, in essence, the exclusion of any novel which follows a “classic” formula. I’m not so keen on this, because when I was about eleven (and writing a novel that was a complete Harry Potter rip off – shush) it really disheartened me getting such strongly critical reactions about that. I mean, I know my novel at that time was too unoriginal to be acceptable, but some of the novels which get hammered aren’t. It’s important to respect your fellow writer, even though constructive criticism is good.
In my opinion, originality is overrated. Sure, it’s always cool to have something new, but not to the exclusion of strong, sound plots that have stood the test of time, being handed down generation by generation.
As a reader, I love the old clichés. I love those wonderful fantasy stories where there is a quest which means the hero or heroine must travel the land. I love the normal magic systems – having to get to grips with a new one irritates me. I love all the clichéd, common, boy meets girl variations, I love those action thrillers that always seem the same, I love the regency romances which scarcely vary.
I buy the book because I love that story, I know I love that story, and that is what I am looking for. Say there is a certain type of book I love, but its plot is considered cliché by writers. Therefore no one dares to write it. So there aren’t many out there… There are plenty of rubbishy ones written by writers who aren’t all well-educated in cliché-avoiding like us Twifties and AWers, but no good ones. Those books would be really likely to sell, as there is an audience out there just waiting.
This isn’t written to say that you should go ahead and rip off Lord of the Rings or Twilight, but rather for those who have written a book and been told it’s been done before. There are only a finite number of plots – it’s how you write it, your voice, your characters, the spin you put on it which matters. So as long as your novel isn’t boring and repetitive don’t give up on it just yet.
Just my two pence (or cents for you Americans) on this. Please chip in with your own opinions in the comments section – I’d be interested to see what others think.