Clichés aren’t that hard to ignore, but we see them all the time. It’s one of the most dreaded expectations of this generation that makes authors and filmmakers rip their hair out. It’s difficult to take the spotlight now, no matter the genre, because it’s so hard to make people thrive for something new.
Perhaps that is why the line distinguishing originality and clichés just seems to get more blurred with each year.
Originality is becoming so rare that it’s hard to make it ‘work’ – some original ideas are just not interesting, others are so captivating that we want more but then it can only go towards a cliché. Maybe it is just our age, where we feel everything, every possible storyline that could’ve been written, has already been written in a million different ways.
And god, does that make writing impossible.
I’ve been working on a story that has been edited and changed over and over again since I was nine because I would start and feel like there’s something great and new, then when I look at it a couple months later, I scrap it because I notice the clichés. In fact, I still haven’t finished it – mainly because, like every child, I based my characters off my friendship group, which has changed numerous times over the years. Eventually, I gave up basing my characters on the people around me.
The point is, you are your worst enemy, especially when it comes to originality, simply because if you can expect what is going to happen in your narrative, you suspect your audience will pick up on it too.
But guess what? Clichés can never be avoided – even in real life. Autopilot turns on, people have their daily routines which they’re comfortable with continuing for weeks, months, years. That’s exactly what clichés are about, comfort. Too many people are afraid to take risks now, and I’m not saying that this generation is too soft, but in our day and age, everyone is extremely cautious. We play things out before they even happen, and so we do everything to avoid that cliché that the originality of the idea becomes a cliché. We tip-toe around things because we want to be different, but we just don’t know how.
I find nowadays that originality is the play of clichés, mixed together like a cliché smoothie that’s so unexpected it’s original. It’s gotten to the point that the cliché is so obvious, the audience expects a change, yet when the cliché plays out, we get shocked. Either way, an ending is always expected by someone, so how do we make it an unexpected ending?
Two words: surprise yourself. Don’t plan things out. The best things happen while you write a story – if you think you know where something is going to go, completely turn away from it. Of course, there will always be an ending that everyone will expect – just like we all expect someone to sit on the throne by the end of A Game of Thrones, we just don’t know who. Keep writing until you have nowhere else to go.
Simply put, the best way to keep your audience guessing is to keep yourself guessing.
Besides, if that’s not enough to motivate you to write your idea, maybe you should just do it before someone else does and makes your originality a cliché. There’s only so many storylines to be written, and only so many words left in this world. Try not to let the ink dry out before you even print.