Back when I was still a freshman at Ball State University, I greeted a girlfriend at her place of work with a bouquet of red roses. It was the end of her shift, and it was Valentine's Day. I walked up to her desk, with all her co-workers gawking at us, and said, "Here, I got you a cliche." I rolled in laughter with the dust bunnies along the catacombs of my mind. Surely someone could appreciate both the flowers and the joke. But I was wrong. Apparently, she took one look at the flowers and surrendered to bliss, whereas after my one-liner, the sensation evaded her. (Guys, never ruin a woman's moment of joy. Just a tip.)
See, it wasn't the cliche that sabotaged the story here, but a severe reaction to it. Such a life lesson carried on, even into my writing. Today, I will show you the right way to treat a cliche, a method which may prove handy in everyday life.
Don't Listen to their Advice . . . at least most of it.
Most writers will tell you that you should always turn a cliche on it side. The idea is to avoid plot ideas that will lead to cliched notions, or if you encounter one during your writing, you should take the opposite direction of what is obvious.
However, I think if you always go against instinct, you'll end up with some very awkward stories. For instance, when a couple sees each other for awhile, at some point they're going to have that magical first kiss. Now, you can be unique with the situation, but the same cliche is still there.
Cliches call for creativity, which means you should stop for a minute and examine which plot turns would be unexpected. No one wants to hear the same story over and over. But mind you, if you avoid the obvious turn too much or reach too far out, people will instantly notice.
In real-life, though, be extremely creative. Calling a dozen roses a cliche isn't the best idea if someone else truly enjoys the gift.
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