Tag Archives: Cliches

Library Writer’s Group: Quotes and Cliches

21 Aug

A writing related post! I’ve been very reading-centric so it’s a relief to write this. My library’s writers group got together about a month ago and I’m only now getting around to summing this up. I hope some of this is worth it for you!

One of the other members said he does his writing using the snowflake method. I’d never heard of this, but it sounds interesting. There’s software related to this, it seems. You can read about it here. The basic concept is that you start with one sentence, then a paragraph, then a page, etc. At some point, you have a full novel, just growing it slowly so the points of the story are always in sight. Cool idea.

Then we talked about writing as a process. Our organizer gave us all a quote she’d found from a famous author about writing my favorite was from Chris Baty, the founder of NaNoWriMo

Rereading parts of your novel while writing is like doubling back at rerunning parts of a marathon midrace.

As an amateur runner, this really struck me. Though, I know this is only one approach to writing. Some writers get halfway through, read their novels, and then decide if they’re heading in the wrong direction. Still, I like Baty’s idea. It matters more that you get there, not how you get there.

The last thing we did was talk about clichés. The exercise we did was really great; we were given a list of cliché phrases and story plots and had to re-write them as something similar that’s not a cliché. So, for example, we were given the phrase “his bark was worse than his bite.” I wrote, “the Sargent screamed so loud that he covered Joel’s face in his spit. he threatened to transfer him, court-martial him. But we all knew he’d never willing let go of any of us.” It’s more fun to do with cliché plots. Here are a few, give it a try!

  • Technology has turned us all into soulless robots
  • Scar-crossed lovers
  • An orphan turns out to be someone important
  • It was all just a dream

That’s all for this meeting. I’ll be on a business trip for the next one so unfortunately I’ll miss that. I hope to update you all again as soon as I can with another writers’ group summary.

Remember to vote for the next book in my Read-Along series. Voting ends Monday, 25-August. Read more about it here.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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.