Eliminating Storytelling Cliches

1 Nov

Welcome to November! The ‘real’ posts you’ll be reading for the next few days were written pre-NaNoWriMo. Once November begins, my daily posts will be much shorter and will serve to update you, Reader, on my NaNo-ing progress toward 50,000 words. I’ll be back come December with more of what you’ve clicked the ‘Like’ button for.

This article is one my husband found and thought would make a good post. I’m inclined to agree. It goes over the author-identified 10 storytelling cliches that he has challenged writers to eliminate from writing. They’re not the ones I was expecting. I encourage you to read the article and I’ll go over a few of them here.

2. Broadcasting an upcoming plot twist. I think this is the cheap way out of good foreshadowing. If you’ve well foreshadowed a plot twist (one that you want to foreshadow), then the line “Little did (s)he know…” is completely unnecessary. I definitely agree here.

3. Blaming bad behavior on bad parenting. In complete agreement! I think a character is scarier or more dangerous if they come from a ‘normal’ background. A few true crime stories will emphasize that the person had a relatively normal upbringing and had an external traumatic event happen to him/her that made him/her the monster (s)he is. That’s real life, it might as well start showing up in fiction.

7. Veiling your message in a dream. I can’t recall a time this has shown up in literature I’ve read, but my husband could. He recently devoured James Dashner’s The Maze Runner series (soon to be a major motion picture) and said that starting in the second book, Dashner started to use this technique. My husband was not a fan.

9. Magical Negros and Noble Savages. In a desperate attempt to not appear racist, we can easily end up looking racist. Throwing in a ‘token black character,’ can be more harmful than positive. It may sound stupid, but my way of adding diversity into stories is to look at demographic data from the time period/era I’m writing in. If 10% of people are Native American, 10% of my characters will be Native Americans. 30% Asian? You’ve guessed it!

10. Knocking characters unconscious for plot convenience. I agree with the writer, this is a serious medical condition that can’t be played off like it’s nothing. However, being the nerd I am, I was glad to see a commenter who pointed out Harry Potter is knocked unconscious in almost every book but wakes up in the hospital wing. I’ll add that it’s normally not from head trauma that he’s unconscious.

 

Readers, let me know what you think of this list. Are there any more cliches you’d like to see disappear? Do you disagree with any of the cliches on this list? Leave a comment and let me know.

Until next time, write on.

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One Response to “Eliminating Storytelling Cliches”

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  1. Foreshadowing and Prophecies | Nina Kaytel - November 15, 2013

    […] Eliminating Storytelling Cliches (samannelizabeth.wordpress.com) […]

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