The Real Problem with Cliches

Cliches aren’t an inherent problem. Shocker. I know. You’d never expect Rosie to say something like that, but it is true. Cliches are not an inherent problem in writing or life. The problem with cliches is twofold sincerity and whether or not they’re boring. A cliche fails when it feels insincere. Let’s put it another way your partner can say “You look great”, but you’ll usually be able to tell when they are really serious or just spouting platitudes. Why? Because there is a difference in tone. Whether your reading a book or a blog you can tell the difference between someone writing passionately and with more than a passing interest to get a concept out.

I say this because I think there are a lot of writers who like the idea of writing and the concept of telling a story, but who don’t want to dig into what they’re writing enough to make it feel authentic. You pick up a book or read someone’s story page and your met with an obvious love of the concept of a character or a relationship, but the writer hasn’t made the story worth your while. They love the idea of this handsome young lad sweeping this girl off her feet…but there is actually no relationship between them except for the writer telling you so. They never have serious conversations or bond beyond steamy scenes, and even if your’re left with a bit of enjoyment you can’t quite believe in their relationship.

Plenty of blogs and stories that I started have not been finished for that very reason. They’re concepts with no depth, and that’s how you fall into the cliche. You don’t sound sincere even if you sincerely want to tell your story. D.D Griggs and I talked about this the other day. Whether you are writing non-fiction or fiction there are cliches and themes. She writes self-help books, and 70% of them are similar or have similar themes that are cliches we can all spout to a certain degree. Writers like her put those cliches into a context and a way of living that is incredibly important, but we’re all familiar with self-help stereotypes of conferences, yogis, and hippies. Most people can tell you one common philosophy in self-help, but neither of those things are inherently bad. What makes a self-help book succeed or fail is a matter of someone liking the author’s style, but more so it is a matter of whether that author is speaking from a place of sincerity and belief. That’s what keeps those cliches from being a problem.

When cliches become a problem is when they’re boring and don’t feel genuine. A blogger talking about “the power of positivism” and working out won’t grab your interest if they are just issuing copy-pasted ideas to their audience. If they don’t let you in to who they are you don’t feel like you can trust them because all you see is surface cliches. The same thing happens in fiction. If you have a book about a werewolf romance that is just paint by numbers it may make money…but it won’t make you an audience for the next book. It won’t get you the sort of repeat readers you want because the readers can tell you aren’t in it and you’re not giving them anything interesting. By that same token, someone else can write the exact same plot (and people do this and do it well) but they make the characters more sincere and write with more passion. They try to keep the story interesting and their readers see that. In blogging and ebook writing I see a lot of people just regurgitating what they think will get them blog follows or downloads, and then I go to forums of people upset and complaining about not getting sales. Well, you aren’t giving a unique product. You give something that is pain by numbers…and so have hundreds of thousands of others, which has hurt the market in many ways all on its own. These writers just don’t see how the cliches aren’t what hurts or helps a story or blog or what have you. It is a matter of how something is written and the tone that allows readers to connect.

Cliches can be powerful tools not only when you subvert them, but when you embrace them with the intention of making them interesting and bringing somethign new to the table with all the sincerity you can muster. This not only applies to the page or screen, but to how you talk to people as well. I hope you keep that in mind when writing holiday cards this season or are getting ready for New Years.

Until next time…

marvel-comics-retro-love-comic-panel-crying-it-s-all-over

Motivational Mondays!

Can you believe in yourself while acknowledging your limitations? I think a lot of people assert that you cannot when the reality is, so long as we are fair and compassionate to ourselves, we truly can. We often forget to be kind to ourselves because we notice our flaws more than we ever realize. We must accept critique with grace, but remember to never let those critiques define us or undermine our self-confidence. No one is perfect, and we must not only recognize that, but accept it as part of our reality as we grow as people. It is hard, but the effort is worth it.

#Mondayinspiration#MotivationalMonday #advice #writelife

Lust, Need, and Sensual Desire:Will You Set My Pants On Fire?

Lust. We all like to think we know what it is, but do we really? Do our textbook definitions encompass the depth and variety of what lust truly can be? I don’t think it does that often, and when we write or talk about lust we have to acknowledge it isn’t as simple as alarms going off in your pant regions. So let’s get down and dirty into what lust is…and yeah we’re also going to talk about pants region. This is only a little taste of this issue, but there is far more to be written about this. I’d love to know you’re opinion!

  1. Lust is more than the sum of how we usually define it…which is a strong desire for sex. You can lust for anything if the passion consumes you. You can lust for cuddling, for understanding, for someone to feel lust for you, and for anything else you are capable of yearning for.. The key to lust, to true lust, is an itching need that almost creeps up your spine like addiction.daring_love_01_00fc Oh we most often relate it to sex, but real lust goes so much  farther. That is what makes it so entrancing to me is because it is something that consumes and comes over you. Lust is a wide sea of feeling and when it comes to writing sexuality it is tied to two things…need and sensual desire. Sure you can have shallow lust. Most people see a beautiful person they’re attracted to and experience the fun shallow burst of “I want you now.” However in portraying a deeper desire you have to unpack what those feelings are. Anyone can want anyone, but there are times you need to have someone want someone, to have them be consumed by an almost compulsive need and overwhelming sensual need.
  2. I’m very…very ultra familiar with lust and need. It often trips people out when I say sex is wonderfully common, but sensuality is the goal for me. It doesn’t happen every time but damn it if isn’t fun. Sensuality is about a few things  and one is namely(but not always)…giphy. The thing that a lot of writers struggle with is conveying the slow dance of characters. Sex begins with a look. It begins with the acknowledgement all parties are geared and ready for the good times to roll. Some of the most sensual experiences a person can have occur with the absence of sex. A slow caress of the hand, a tender kiss, or that single exchange of knowing smiles all contribute to the creation of a sensual energy between people. It can build up creating the tension readers want to feel. It can be intensely sexual and mind numbingly powerful because much like sexual pleasure it simply builds and builds so the sexual act itself becomes release. I’m not only talking about in erotica, but in any genre when you create then mount that tension you instill that in your readers. So they get satisfaction from the sexual culmination of it. This may not be a sexual satisfaction. Often it is a catharsis of knowing these characters you’ve invested in finally acted on something they wanted to do, which another wonderful form of satisfaction. But a word of warning: Sometimes it goes on too long and writers mistake dragging out a romance for tension. My partner and I have thoroughly discussed the fact that CW’s The Flash spent far too long trying to drag out the titular hero’s relationship with Iris West. It felt slow, the obstacles contrived and uninteresting. Ultimately its most redeeming quality is that it reminded me why some characters and people are better starting off as dates/lovers than as “friends with sexual tension”. None of it rang true and ultimately both my partner and I were rolling our eyes by the second season. When sexual or romantic tension drags out too long without tangible and convincing justifications or insight into why the characters decide to drag things out it can drive you mad. If you write this then your characters feel lazily written and your plot hackneyed. I’m proud that I just used that word, and no one can take that away from me.
  3. Need is a key component of lust, but we often talk about it in cliches. A lot of my life has been spent figuring out what it is to “need” someone or something. Once upon a time I thought I needed many things, but now I know I need only that which makes me content. But the need we often use in writing isn’t about existential happiness. No it is about an aching feeling of not just want, but the knowledge you cannot and should not continue without that thing or person. Full disclosure, the notion of “need” is something I’ve always romanticized until recently.In theory it is so romantic, but to me it also signals an immature love. I spent 6 pining for a man I thought I needed and it took him destroying my dreams to make me see that love shouldn’t make you feel that way. You may call me a cynic, but I call it obsession. I won’t claim we didn’t need each other when we were together. In fact I know we needed each other more than anything that we had at the time, but you should be able to stand on your own even if it hurts. If you can’t please think about what you’re feeling because you should never want to stop living because of anyone leaving like that. That all being said need is absolutely beautiful in writing. fuckhard-heart-love-need-typography-favim-com-134749_large The thing about writing a character having a profound need is it can’t just be consuming…you have to make it felt. The sensation of need is one that isn’t just a character wanting strongly. But either: a character experiencing a powerful “realization”, through conscious thought, feeling, or both; a character , usually unconsciously, acting on impulses and a deep desire for someone or something whether recognized or not. Weaving a story where a character isn’t, only or even necessarily denying their need, but a character whose compulsive need/desire for is building is essentially writing about obsession. As I related in my story to have a need is to be obsessed, and that doesn’t last forever. Time doesn’t matter, but there it is most power when the obsessive need builds or when it is felt in a moment. Truthfully I believe need is often momentary, and by that I mean the need comes when you feel their is a risk. It hits you when you ,consciously or unconsciously, feel as though you need to act or cannot act but feel as though if you don’t something will slip away. There’s this weird tie between helplessness and need…and oddly hoarding, which is a common obsession. This is awesome because it gives you a thousand different ways to convey this situation because every single person has a slightly different reaction to need. Some people view it as an invasion by emotion, while others interpret it as this wonderful emotion(sweeping like a good pop song). You can go anywhere

Of course this post barely scratched the surface of it all, but I wanted to begin unpacking a bit of this awesome and complex thing we call lust! What do you think? Do you agree? Do you disagree? Tell me what’s up!

 

One Sentence Story Time: Nanonwrimo Edition

In the heat of the battle in the midst of burning magic and the beastial cries of warring animals that blended with seering human screams I found myself reminded of New Year’s Eve 1923.

So this is the first line of my nanowrimo story which will be published under another name so. This is all you’re getting . Not sure it’s going to his 50,000 words or not but I think it’s going to be fabulous.