There’s a warning out there in Writer Land: avoid clichés at all cost. If one pops up in a manuscript, light the blowtorch and burn that sucker out of the story! Okay, so maybe it’s not that extreme. Forgive me, I’ve been preparing Superhero battles with my son.
The type of cliché I’m focusing on is the plot cliché, an occurrence found so often that it becomes cliché and loses that special spark in the process. I had one I hadn’t even realized: my main characters met at a bar. At the time I had read very few novels that began in this fashion, it was a honest and clueless mistake. I reworked the scene to avoid the real cliché part of the meeting: their eyes lock from across the room… Nope, done before, needs something to set this meeting apart from the pack.
This past week I was diving into a Work In Process, trying to find something to revise with a purpose, because I really do love what a revision can do. I’m plugging along, planting in new concepts, and came to an abrupt halt. My characters meet where? That’s right, a bar. So not only had I not been aware of this being a clichéd occurrence, I made it cliché in my own work.
I retreated into my warped little mind and played around with other scenarios that would work for my characters. What really spurred on this realization was a decision to make one of my characters not drink alcohol. But that still left me with a stressed out character looking for a release.
Hello ice cream. No longer do my characters meet at a bar, their eyes locking and… yeah. Now my female drops her ice cream cone down the front of my male’s shirt. And I’m saying a silent thanks to the Cliché Gods, as this small change revamps my entire opening and makes it stronger.
Furthermore, a trail of ice cream, down a hot guy’s shirt. It just calls for licking, doesn’t it?