[Edit: I accidentally reverted this post back to a draft, because the editor was being super-glitchy, and I had a bit of a misadventure when I tried the “new editor”, but luckily I’m back to the classic one. A word of advice, do not switch to the new editor or else your blog will be cursed!]
So, here’s another thing I want to get off my chest.
Anyway, I just wanted to write about this topic because it’s something we all deal with, whether we read or write a story. We pick up a book, begin reading it, and as we take in the plot, we think, ‘well, I’m sure I’ve read this before’. Sometimes, if we’re sassy enough, we roll our eyes. We have times where we have an idea for a story and begin plotting. Then, halfway through development, we go, ‘aw shucks, this isn’t original at all!’. For instance, I’m planning on writing a romance novel (something that isn’t mindf%$#ery for once), and while the love interest isn’t a sexy, chiselled, 6-packed bajillionaire, he still has inner demons, and the trials that my lovebird protagonists go through aren’t exactly original either (no spoilers!). So this was one trigger to my exploration of clichés in literature.
So this brings me to the question: can we really avoid clichés and certain tropes in literary works? As avid literature fans, we all desire a breath of fresh air when we search for new books to read. I’m a huge fan of psychological thrillers and the like, but then, there comes a point where I can predict a plot twist or pinpoint the true villain of the story (usually a wolf in sheep’s skin). Are these devices repetitive? Most certainly. Are they boring? Not necessarily.
Sometimes I feel that clichés and tropes can be inevitable at times. It’s almost as if some genres are born to have particular tropes associated with them. I suppose clichés work, and they sell. Not only are the tropes and cliches within the story repetitive, so are the book covers! In romance, there’s a woman in the arms of a very sexy (and often shirtless) man, and in crime and thrillers, there is either a dark corridor/alley or a silhouette of a person, and in sci-fi, there’s usually alien landscapes with a celestial body of some sort in the background (often a photoshopped Saturn). Perhaps the reason that book covers are designed in a specific way so that they can appeal to their intended audience. Though to me, I think that most typical romance covers look tacky, but that’s my own personal taste (minimalist covers are my favourites). But at least they scream ‘ROMANCE’ to the fans of romantic stories. Vice versa for other genres.
The main argument that I want to put forth is that no, we can’t always avoid certain clichés and tropes when we’re reading or writing particular genres of literature. Despite critiquing the tropes/clichés, I’m also guilty of using some of them myself (ergo, I’m a HYPOCRITE). I suppose the reason that we probably get a little too nit-picky with either our own or someone else’s works is because we want ORIGINALITY™. But, no story is truly original, do you agree? Stories do follow a certain type of formula to some extent, and we’re kind of pushing pressure on ourselves to try and write something that’s completely out of left field.
But I also want to say it won’t hurt to use them, and people are going to be peeved at clichés and stereotypes whether we like it or not, and we can’t impress everyone. Yeah, they can be annoying and overused, but perhaps they could work if they are written well. Additionally, is it really that fair to compare books to others in the same genre?
I’d like to hear your thoughts, and ask:
What do you think of the common clichés and tropes present in literature? You can talk about genre-specific ones too.
What’s your favourite cliché or trope? What is your least?
Have you ever added your own twist to an overused cliché/trope? How did you do this?
Or, has an author whose works you’ve read twisted them around?
Anyway, now’s the time to say toodles, and have a nice day, wonderful reader!