Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Tuesday Talk: Cliches That Need to Disappear

This month, PHS columnist Barbara Wallace talks about cliches she'd like to see disappear.

We've all read them, books so riddled cliches or stereotypes we practically pull a muscle from rolling our eyes.  At their minimum, they are the hallmark of predictable writing. Of lazy writing. Of average writing.   At their worst, they reinforce negative images.

Granted, sometimes they're inadvertent - a writer creates a well-rounded, thoughtful character that still hits some people as stereotypical.  And sometimes we don't realize we are using a cliche or stereotype because let's face it: stereotypes exist because they are widely held beliefs within our circle.

But mostly, writers lean on cliches because they're easier.  Under deadline pressure, we go for the easiest plot solution, or cut corners on secondary characters.  Thinking of a new twist on the familiar takes time and effort, and frankly, when your editor is breathing down your neck because your book needs to be finished in a week, your effort is busy putting out words to worry about whether your plot twist has been done before.

Even so, that's no excuse.  The best books are the ones that surprise us and move beyond the cliche.  Lately I've been creating a list of cliches I'd like to see benched for a while.  They include:

* Sassy black best friends
* Evil right-wing family values politicians
* "Fabulous" gay best friends
*Evil other women/ex-wives, etc.
* Heroines who believe what the evil other woman says without question
* Insta-lust

This isn't to say every book that uses these is automatically bad.  It simply means the writer has to work harder to keep me on the edge of the seat.  I also should point out that when I talk about cliches, I'm not talking about popular romance hooks.  I know readers have their favorite types of stories.  Some love Christmas romances, some like secret babies. Me? Give me a broken hero and I'm hooked.

But, let's face it, no matter how popular a story hook, a book loses something when it features cookie cutter characters and/or plots.  For example, if you can tell from page one that the super super staunch family values politician is going to be a hypocritical bad guy, the book loses some of its suspense.   But if the villain instead turns out to be the happy-go-lucky guy who runs the local homeless shelter?  Well then, that's a plot twist!

Therefore, my fellow writers, let's all promise to seek fresh twists on these time worn plots and characters, and give our readers not just average books, but great ones.

What about you? What romance cliches are you sick of reading?  Join in the conversation by commenting below

Barbara Wallace's latest book, CHRISTMAS BABY FOR THE PRINCESS features a lot of familiar romance hooks, hopefully with an original fresh fashion.  

Rescuing the pregnant princess! 
Faced with a royal scandal, pregnant princess Arianna fled to New York. But when a pickpocket leaves her penniless, she must turn to handsome restauranteur Max Brown for help… 
Max can't resist rescuing this enchanting stranger, even if her mysterious past makes him wary. But as his newest (and worst!) waitress brings festive sparkle into his solitary life, can he hope Arianna is here for life…not just for Christmas?

Available for Pre-Order Now (for November 1).

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