Once upon a time…let’s scratch that right there. Clichés are easy to spot, but for some of us, they’re so hard to resist writing. It’s what we think is fresh and exciting because in many of the books we’ve read, they were fresh and exciting to us as new readers. However, now, as writers, we need to learn to put these clichés and stereotypes aside and concoct something no one has ever seen before.
1. Be Realistic
Think about the genre you’re writing in. Could this actually happen in accordance with the story? Also think about if it really would happen in the story you’re writing. Don’t add things just for shock value.
2. Turn the Situation Around
If you think a cliché might work well in a situation in your writing, try flipping it around and doing the exact opposite. This will throw off readers who are expecting the obvious and make your writing more exciting.
3. Don’t Imitate from Published Work
Published authors have already done their work in coming up with original thoughts. Recreating these moments too closely to the original work is not only clichéd, but just like in my last blog post, it has the potential to run as plagiarism.
4. Work Slow and Steady
An writer on writersdigest.com had his students write two essays on the same topic and have one of them be exciting and one be ungodly boring. He discovered the “boring” essay came out to hold his interest more, because more thought went into descriptions than in trying too hard to come off as exciting.
5. Watch out for the Future and the Past
All stories have the ability to become clichéd, but those in the future and past have been written about so often, you have to watch out for overdone aspects. Remember aliens taking over the world and a high-born lady falling in love with a peasant? Me too.
6. Design Your Own Things
Designing your own aspects of a story, for example, a world, a country, an invention, a creature, etc., that has never been done before is a great way to come in with the new and out with the old. (That last sentence I just wrote….cliché alert!!)
7. Have an Open Ending
Here’s a thought: Don’t end your story. Let the reader decide what will happen in the end. Of course, all stories will not lend themselves to this, but it could be exciting to use very sparingly.
8. Avoid Gender Stereotypes
As far as character clichés go, gender stereotyping is the most common. In order to avoid this, try to read over your work with a gender lens on, keeping an eye out for things that would typecast either a male or female.