Whats in a Cliche? A trope by any other name wouldn’t be so lame

Once Upon a Time: Tropes and Clichés

I recently had the pleasure of reblogging an enjoyable rant about that bothersome subject.

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I liked the post but it raise an rebellious thought however – too often we dismiss various tropes and ideas for being “too cliche” but often don’t really get to the heart of why such such a thing is bad.

(For the record I’m talking hear more about tropes, rather than cliche phrases which could be a whole entire other post)

First of all, I think the reason certain plot points or story progressions become considered cliche is that they are quite good really. For example the quintessential love triangle; it can be hard to generate tension within an entirely monogamous situation, and including any more than three angles can make an MC seem greedy (or of course create an easy solution of pairing people off with other characters aka Shakespearean comedy).

So sure love triangles are (over)used but does this mean they are bad? After all if our argument is that anything done often = cliche territory, and must be avoided we might as well stop having main characters romance subplots or writing books in discernible language.

In my humble opinion a cliche starts to stink when a writer perhaps fails to provide good story fundamentals to back up the situation, and/or worse believes that a tropey story technique will be powerful on its own to make a compelling read. Dare I use such an Example but the Twilight series is a successful example of including a love-triangle without solely relying on the fact, by which I mean the relationship tension existed logically among vampire/werewolf politics and plots and all the other sparkly stuff (OK maybe not the best example).

Another perhaps stronger case is Harry Potter. Why Harry Potter could easily be accused of ‘the chosen one’ cliche its hardly the center-piece of the story. Yes Harry’s position does bring much misery and plot action his way, but in no way does Rowling rely on a prophecy of Harry vs the Dark Lord to carry the story of the series or any individual book.

For a poor example of prophetic action see this trilogy the author of which I really love, but I noticed the series relies awfully heavily on the fact the main character is a prophesied evil-defeater and from there much of the tension drains away (the second trilogy in the series is much better despite a very fluffy ending)

I guess my conclusion is that readers aren’t necessarily looking for cliche’s to burn with pitchforks and flaming torches in hand, but rather that story tropes that are ubiquitous in fiction need to be handled with care, lest we as writers forget to tell an authentic story rather than fall back on said tropes hoping they will carry the story.

 

What are your thoughts on cliche’s? Are there any that you particularly despise, or love?

Don’t be shy comments section is there for a reason!!

What Your Author Website is Likely Missing

I hadn’t even heard of a media kit!!! Better keep an eye on this blog 😀

Story Empire

BlogHi, SEers. Forgive me for being a hypocrite, but today’s post is going to be a do-as-I-say-and-not-as-I-do post. Remember, I used to work in corporate communications, so I know marketing strategies. (That doesn’t mean I use them myself; it just means I know them.)

Okay… Unless you literally just decided to become an author today, you almost definitely have an author website. Hopefully you’ve included the basics:

  • landing page to advertise news and collect email addresses
  • blog to share content, generate interest, and remain fresh in the minds of your fans
  • book pages so your work is well-defined and easy to find
  • about page to introduce yourself to new visitors
  • social media links so people can find you elsewhere online
  • contact page so your readers can reach you
  • platform-wide cohesion and pleasing design

Many authors stop there. Okay, let’s be honest—many readers fall short in some/most/all of those categories.

  • Their…

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Once Upon a Time: Tropes and Clichés

Nice little writing rant here

A Morbid Mind

Hello everyone! “Once Upon a Time” will be the new category of the blog where I’ll attempt to put my thoughts on writing-related topics in such a way I can give advice to ya’ll. Keep in mind this is all theory and personal opinions, as there aren’t really any rules when it comes to writing.

First of all, what are tropes? For those who don’t know, tropes are tools used by writers to mold the way they write their characters, world, plot… — everything. Tropes are the engine that move the story forward and I believe there is probably no way to write a tropeless story.

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Totally Plan on reviewing these, but Smashwords is defying my login right this minute

Have you read any of my YA magical realism/adventure/romance books? Do you like this sort of book? Would you recommend them to anyone? The Beauty Thief / Captive Hope / The Treasonous If you have read any of them, I’d like to ask ahem–beg–you for a review on Amazon US. This isn’t something I outright ask for very […]

via Amazon Reviews Request, s’il vous plait! — Fiction by Rachael Ritchey

Totally Plan on reviewing these, but Smashwords is defying my login right this minute

Have you read any of my YA magical realism/adventure/romance books? Do you like this sort of book? Would you recommend them to anyone? The Beauty Thief / Captive Hope / The Treasonous If you have read any of them, I’d like to ask ahem–beg–you for a review on Amazon US. This isn’t something I outright ask for very […]

via Amazon Reviews Request, s’il vous plait! — Fiction by Rachael Ritchey

Over-analysis of The Grey

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First of all – THIS MOVIE CAME OUT IN 2011?? That doesn’t seam that long ago right this minute ARG.

Second – major SPOILERS for the movie The Grey

So The Grey as a movie is really quite a unique piece, its really quite strange. I mean it came out during (and I’m not sure this is over) Liam Neeson’s flurry of B-grade action roles, and many people – myself included – assumed that The Grey would be a survival based action pic, pitting Neeson against Wolf.

This movie is really not that.

On the surface its a bleak, ponderous, gloomy and slow tale of Ottway (Neeson’s character) and a bunch of no-hoper dudes whose plane crashes in the middle of not really identified but really snowy – and how all the characters die. I mean your typical survival horror is kinda front loaded with character development and then rising tension of death before some sort of brutal finale, The Grey however shows its characters basically picked off like clockwork, the finale while intense and interesting (more on that later) doesn’t really contain any of the tropes of a action survival or horror film.

All the scenes are slow, awkward and generally painful. The special effects are somewhat terrible (like it looks like a 90’s film) the characters personalities are vague, as are the MC’s motivations and as there is about as much hope of the characters survival (and yet its not meant to be a Game of Thrones level tension, its almost like the writers neglected the characters as much as life has within the film)

Still, with all that, the movie is a thing of greatness, probably one of my favourites and worthy of me blogging on about it.

You see, behind the boring and bleak context the movie is surprisingly deep subtextually. In between the rather un-movie like progression of the film Ottway’s character goes through considerable development, and shows the peaks and furrows of a good character arc. And despite the vagueness there is an oddly powerful intentionally behind it.

For example when the film begins we hear Ottway narrating a letter, which is shown as being to an (apparently) ex-lover. In the letter he says he belongs among the people in some form of remote oil station, fugitives, ex-cons, assholes he also says its been a long time since he has done the world any good. We then see an odd juxtaposition of actions, Ottway shoots a wolf that was about to attack some workers, we also see him that night setting up his rifle to end his own life. Then we also see him comfort said wolf as it dies, and oddly the event that causes him to put the gun away and carry on is hearing wolves howling in the hills around him.

That probably sounded a little nonsensical but believe me in the film it is to, watching it made me think, so is he a bad guy? Or not a bad guy? Why didn’t he pull that trigger, does he like wolves or dislike them, does he see his job as pro wolf shooter as worthwhile or is that part of the reason he thinks he’s a bad guy (he describes himself as a professional killer)

Now usually being vague is poison to story telling, in a cliche hollywood style film we’d be shown Ottway as specifically bad/suicidal/good whatever, in this film its just presented as a mish-mash of traits – much as people are in real life.

Again in a Hollywood version the con-current plan crash and Ottway’s leadership of the survivors would be presented as the catalyst with which he reclaimed the will to live and/or became a good guy and probably win his lover back. In the Grey however its presented as a desperate attempt to rally dying men that ultimately ends in all the men’s death. A few of them are picked off by the wolves, which rather than being presented as any kind of defeatable enemy are simply relentless killers never really letting up on the survivors the only real thing saving them fire and the fact that each dead human occupies the wolves for a short period. The rest die through accident or illness from their dire situation. One of the most intense was ‘John’ the asshole of the group who harassing everyone and generally was a dick the whole time eventually simply gives up, revealing that he doesn’t have anything to go back to and would rather just rest and watch the scenery before death takes him.

Anyway I’m not trying to summarize the whole movie here, but woven throughout the bleak and actually kinda boring plot are some pretty radical themes. Most of the dying men focus on their family in their last moments, its Ottway’s character that struggles the most. When he is finally left alone in the wild the last survivor he yells at God, kinda abruptly given that faith and beliefs aren’t introduced as a theme, yet like everything else with this film it just works. We have this main character that we literally know NOTHING about other than he really misses his lover and has a fair amount of wilderness survival knowledge and a little insight into his father’s poetry shouting at the sky about how he desperate he is for a miracle.

Finally in our final scene he get a brilliantly broken down sequence where Ottway lays the men’s wallets into a shrine, looking at their photos revealing pictures of their loved ones and SURPRISE M—-F—- Ottway’s lover didn’t leave him, she got sick. Throughout the film we see him think about his lover showing him in a simple bed scene while she whispers sweet stuff to him, finally in this moment the scene expands a little to show an IV drip the music shifting perfectly to show us what really happened. We also see that in Ottway’s wallet the picture is old-ish and his wallet worn, suggesting it has been some time since she passed away.

At this point Ottway realizes he has walked into the middle of the wolf’s den. And suddenly we wonder just how it this film going to end? Like a total badass Ottway smashes some sample bottles for a brutal knuckle duster and grabs a wire for use as a garrote. The final shot of the film being Ottway running to fight the alpha wolf.

As I said earlier Ottway actually has a dramatic character arc, where he travels from suicidal to still fighting on to survive. It’s kinda horrible that this arc is in the backdrop of well he’s 99.9% going to die anyway, but it doesn’t take away from the story. Now there is a really odd teeny tiny post-credit scene (which is bizarre I thought those were basically trailers for the next Marvel movie??) showing the wolf and Ottway lying together like brothers apparently taking their last breathes. I don’t think the shot adds much to the tale other than to make the film seem even more further from a cliche tropey film.

What I like best about the film is that most moves and stories have to work super hard and carefully to manipulate our emotions, whereas in the Grey its kinda just dumped on us, the twist of Ottway’s wife is got to be the most depressing sad twist since Memento yet somehow between Neeson’s amazing acting the unrelenting nature of this film its pulled off.

I dunno maybe I just need to get out more

 

 

EDITING 101: 30 – Ellipses…

Who would have thought there was so much to learn about … ellipses!

Chris The Story Reading Ape's Blog

Originally posted as the Dun Writin’—Now Whut? series on this blog, EDITING 101 is a weekly refresher series for some of you and brand new for others.

Courtesy of Adirondack Editing

Ellipses

Ahh, another point of grammar that’s frequently either overused or incorrectly used. And, in this case, it’s understandable! There are so many different ways to use ellipses.

First, we’ll start with the punctuation mark itself. Some authors use three dots in a row…which Microsoft Word will typically convert into an ellipsis character. An ellipsis character only takes up one character space, and can be deleted by backspacing one time. This ellipsis is scrunched together more than if there were simply three period/full stop marks.

Other authors like to use a space in between . . . like this. It’s spread out more and I think it looks nicer. The problem is when it comes at the end of a sentence…

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Q&P Episode 2: Agent Y – Why Agents Don’t Love Us

Really good info re: queries (also about to reblog the first post)

C. Hofsetz

In the publishing industry, many badly-written queries are considered especially heinous, and they are probably the reason why you didn’t get published yet.

The dedicated people who reply to query letters are members of an exclusive elite squad known as literary agents.

These are their stories.


Why Agents Don’t Love Us – Part 2

Previously on Query and Publish…

In one of my blog posts, I did an analysis of what genres agents are looking for in the US. Unfortunately, the main question – why the agent doesn’t love me – wasn’t addressed. The problem is that this differs from agent to agent, so it’s hard to answer it.

Part 1 of this series looked into agent’s X preferences. Part 2 is about agent Y.

Agent Y

For the purposes of this post, Y is a literary agent that posted information about at least 200 queries on twitter in the last few…

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