Wednesday, March 28, 2012

The Great Cliche: An Evolution of Acceptance (Courtesy John Hughes)

Any of you who have followed my blog for more than a few months, know that I struggled with the description one agent (during my days of query) saddled my baby...er, manuscript, with. She called it "cliche." OUCH!

My initial response was to fire back an email proclaiming the authenticity of my book, and demand she resign from the literary world because her twenty-five years of experience had obviously left her lacking in the ability to properly access a story as "cliche" or "non-cliche." But after a few calming breaths (and a firm "DO NOT DO THAT!" email from a writer friend) I realized that wasn't in my best interest. Instead, I thanked her for her consideration and settled on Google Earth-ing her place of business so I could fantasize about toilet papering her building and leaving chalk outlines on her front porch. (Relax, Frances. Not dead body outlines, more like sad faces and elephants wearing hats. I draw those really well.)

The great cliche has sort of haunted me since then.

True, I did sign with an agent who believes wholeheartedly in the originality of my book, and the "cliche" word hasn't come up at all during our submission process, but up until this last weekend I always considered "cliche" as something negative. (Like when my 7th grade teacher used my favorite word: AUDACITY, like it was the plague instead of an attribute). That is until I was flipping through channels and came across Pretty In Pink. *blissful sigh* With one glimpse of Molly Ringwald in her hideous, hand-made outfit I was instantly transported from a laundry-induced stupor where cliche was a bad word, to a relaxing nirvana where slightly-predictable story lines were familiar and welcoming, and Duckie wasn't just the second-rate actor standing beside Ashton Kutcher.

What I've come to accept is that writing a "cliche" story isn't a bad thing at all. It works! Just ask John Hughes...er...his estate? Anyway, It's the characters that make a predicable story unique. We all knew that Andie and Blane were going to end up together, just like we knew that Jake *swoon* would bring Samantha her undies, and that Keith would give Watts the diamond earrings. There's a reason we love the plot lines we do. On some level we know how the story is going to end--it's the journey that gets us there that makes it exciting!