Sunday, July 24, 2011
Clichés can make you cry, but then feel okay
A post from Steph Sinkhorn over at MaybeGenius has had my mind racing all week. She has done a series of posts on clichés in different types of Young Adult Lit and a tweet from The Intern led me to this post on clichés in YA fantasy. I urge you to read her post, the whole series of them in fact, but to summarize- Steph writes that she reads a lot of YA and she wants to highlight some of the more common clichés authors use in various genres. She is explicit in her intent, "The goal with this series is not to ridicule, but to inform and inspire a break from the usual in today's literature." Great, right? Well, the reason this particular post has led to even more sleepless nights than usual is that I, in fact, DO have several of these clichés in An Unexpected Kingdom (concept of The Chosen One, princess who doesn't know it yet, special powers released at moment of coming of age (sort of), just-plain-evil villain). For those who are capable of high-level mathematics, that means that of the 12 clichés mentioned in the post, my novel has one-third of them! So, how do I feel about this? First I felt sad, defeated, and sort of embarrassed. Then I felt defiant. That lasted about 30 minutes before I slipped into a depression. Why write if I cannot bring anything unique or special into this world? The depression lasted most of last week (that combined with Blogger's non-cooperation resulted in no new posts) and now I feel a jumble of things. Resigned for sure. Yes, I have some clichés in my writing but I am not ready to scrap my novel so I will continue to have these clichés for as long as I write about Ava. Some readers won't like my novel(s) as a result. That stings, but that's also just how it goes. I feel hopeful, because I spent two hours sitting in front of my beloved bookshelves and looking at all the novels I love that make these clichés work. Finally, I feel grateful. These are things that I need to keep in mind while I create. I don't want to be cookie-cutter or derivative. I want to write good stories that people will read and like (or better yet- love!). To do that, I need to be mindful of clichés, even if I cannot and will not completely avoid them.