I was thinking a lot recently about cliches and how hard it is to avoid them. Romantic cliches are particularly tricky. In order to illustrate this, I decided to create a nice, little flow chart that explores some (but not all) of the common romantic plot lines that can be found in books and movies.
You’re gonna want to click on that image to make it bigger, obviously. Don’t worry — it’ll open in a new tab. You should also be able to click on it once it’s open in a new tab to zoom it in even more. I think you’ll be happier with it then. Have fun!
Please note the disclaimer in red in the lower left corner. I just couldn’t cover everything. This process was exhausting enough as it was. Hell, the computerized version wasn’t even my first draft. I did it all on paper first.
But the reason I did this was to show you that avoiding cliches is hard, and you shouldn’t be expected to do it perfectly. That’s why I talk about taking a cliche and making it your own. At this point there aren’t many more options. You’ll note I didn’t really have examples for the “They’re both gay” storyline. That could use some exploring. And, of course, my own novels — Hellbound, Grotesque, and The Dreamcatchers — can be found in there. Because I am not above these cliches at all. I just try to make them as fresh as possible. You will also note that many titles appeared multiple times. That just serves to further illustrate how complicated something as seemingly simple as a relationship between two people can get. It might also help you to develop some ideas for your own characters and stories, I hope. Try exploring multiple story arcs at once, or turning a cliche on its head.
Also I did not include the following story line for what I hope are obvious reasons.
Boy and Girl Meet —-> They do not develop a relationship —-> They never see each other again
In a story, if you bring up two people meeting, it has to be relevant somehow. So….yeah.
I want to talk a little bit about the art of criticism next, so that’ll be coming up.
Ta ta for now!