Friday, August 10, 2012

Let's Talk About Cliche

Seems that today is the era of "Been there, done that, read it, moving on" and the like. Let's face it, no matter where we go today in the literary world we will find a cliche somewhere, and its no wonder people are so sick of them. But, they are selling.

The other day I had been really excited to find out that several people liked a review I posted on Goodreads because I had believed that they had read my review. Well, when I looked over at the book's latest reviews I saw that a lot of people had given it one-star reviews (so, obviously something else is going on here, but I'm not going to get into that now) and when I saw why they had given that work a one-star review it was because the novel was full of cliches. There was the insta-love, the love triangle, the super special heroine, the guys that just happen to be at the right time and place to witness the super special heroine using her powers, and the super special heroine not knowing about anything until someone tells her.

Now, what do all those traits sound like? Any of them familiar? Well, the peeps over at Goodreads think so. One commented, "Yeah, because I've NEVER heard of something like that before (sarcasm)" and another comment, "Didn't see THAT coming (just add the sarcasm again)."

The YA world will be filled with cliches, that's the sad reality. Why? Just look at what's selling! People sit, complaining, and wishing for something different yet by buying that book they set themselves up. Publishers will know and will keep wanting books like these because they are told in their minds, "These books are selling - we need more." Or, maybe something else, but when I look at the NYT's bestseller list, it's usually a book filled with cliches.

But, and here's where I'm trying to make my point, cliches do not have to exist in the same pattern people make them. It is possible to make it your own. Currently, I'm reading an ARC of Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire. Now, that book has a cliche where the main male is the Best Damn Thing on Campus and the main female lead is brushing off his advances.

Obviously, one would assume that she would begin falling for him not even halfway through the book. But here's where McGuire took a cliche and made it her own. As much of a romance as this book is, the main plot line is about the main girl moving on from her dark past. She'll probably end up falling for the guy (I'm only near the beginning still, so who knows) but at least McGuire has taken it down her own path.

I can't talk too much about the novel just yet, but when one reads it they can already tell the difference.

Or, let's take a familiar one: The Iron Fey series by Julie Kagawa. Love triangle, check. Super special heroine, check. The guy that just happens to be there, check. Now, in my opinion, something that made the novel great was that it didn't have insta-love, which I think many fans liked. But, I also think that the unexpected endings of each book also made the novels interesting.

Yeah, the cliches will happen, but I think a lot of authors have to keep in mind that it is possible to make the cliche and twist it around and make it their own. Whether it be a surprise ending, taking something out of the above equation, or just writing a completely different novel that will one day enter the world of cliches.

And as readers I think we should remember that it isn't about the things that sound familiar that turns us off from a book but the little differences that make a book it's own. Like a well drive plot line, or even just a good plot in the story, or the character development, or so on. As much as we like to think everything is the same, somethings are different and we should keep that in mind.

Now, obviously, I am not in the publishing biz nor am I an author. I'm just a little blogger in the great Blogger World, and this is what I see. Anyone here can disagree with me, in fact, I welcome it to see others opinion.

What other cliches have you seen out there?

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