Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Cliché Plot Monster

Have you ever started to write a story only to realise it’s a copy of another?

I’ve done this on multiple occasions. It’s the curse of the cliché monster. We read a story and we file what we like about it in our minds. Years, or months, or even days later it re-emerges in our own stories. It’s not something we do on a conscious level. But it is something to watch out for.

It’s crucial to make the story your own. Create a twist from the original, veer off in a completely different direction. Don’t settle with what you have, but strive to make something new.

The cliché monster lurks in all of us. It likes to live not only within the phrases we use, but also in the plots we pursue. If we want our writing to be greater than mass produced pulp written to a formula, then we must study our plots as carefully as we study our words. We must seek the crispiness of a freshly tossed salad of events in our stories and surprise our readers with excellence.

Are you also plagued by the cliché plot monster? How do you keep it fresh?


  1. I think we all deal with this monster at one time or another...I have poured my heart out in a post, only to read a similar story later on...that seems to express the idea so much more eloquently than I...

    When I first began blogging, the enemy would use this to discourage me from writing...but in my talks with the Lord, He has shown me that if I write for HIM...HE will lead the ones that need to read my story to my blog...

    For me, keeping it fresh involves taking an impression of an idea that is placed in my heart, and applying it to my own personal situation...when I proofread a draft, and my eyes tear up, or my heart feels full...I know I have done my best for Him....

  2. Ugh. I thought I had a great idea with a mystery that the children of a small country town would solve instead of the police and the more I went on the more excited I got. I'd rewritten the plot for 'To Kill a Mockingbird'.

    It's fine though, once I realise a plot is too similar to another I just find a new twist on it, a change in the outcome, story or characters to make it fresh.

  3. Karen, Aah, yes, I've done that so many times... but sometimes what one person says doesn't trigger a reaction in what another person says. As you say, God gives you the words. We may not always see where or how we make a difference, but we do. So keep writing.

    Putting your writing on a more personal level is a great way of keeping it fresh. Your perspective will always be unique.

    Charmaine, I giggled a little when you said you realised you'd rewritten Mockingbird. Nothing is new under the sun. It's a great story and it's worth tweeking to make it your own. It helps when we recognise the story early on so its not so difficult to change.

  4. Sometimes. I think I'm telling an ordinary story then people will tell me I surprised them. Maybe because I spend most of my time trying to think like an alien. LOL

  5. M Pax, lol, awesome. I really need to give that a go - to write a story through the eyes of an alien. Might be fun. The furthest I've gone is put human characters in alien settings.

  6. Hi Lynda, I just wanted to say I love this new blog. Thank you for putting it together. I've read all your other posts and find them very helpful. I do believe that God has called me to write and teach His word, but I am horrible at finding my focus. It's something I am working on and I pray I will overcome it in Jesus name.

    Great job.

  7. Vickie, I'm so glad you like the posts. Finding a focus as a writing can sometimes be a difficult thing - especially if you feel torn in different directions. My only advice is keeping writing. Just keep writing.

  8. Thank you for sharing your new blog. Beautiful writing. Blessings.


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