Wednesday 8 June 2011

So, um, I've got a lot of clichés in my second novel. On purpose.

There's one thing I despise in writing fiction: RULES. Yes, I know that if certain rules are followed, you're more likely to get an agent or publisher to sign you on, especially this business of creating a good 'hook' in your first chapter. I guess that is one rule I try to follow the best I can. BUT. Who's to say that a good book can't be written with a few of these rules broken?

See, I'm experimenting with a little rule-breaking in my second novel. Well, it's not REALLY rule-breaking, but I guess I'm poking fun at a rule. But let's just say I'm breaking a rule and humor me a bit, huh? ;o)

So what rule am I breaking?
I have a character in my new book, Ailish, who likes to speak in quotes and clichés. In fact, she even quotes about clichés at one point. She says:

Well, sweetheart, like the talented Evelyn Waugh said, ‘to be oversensitive about clichés is like being oversensitive about table manners.'

(Context: her daughter is complaining about her constantly using clichés because she's a literature professor. But the thing I'm most proud of here is the fact that they're sitting down to eat dinner, and Ailish has just groaned about her daughter ripping a piece of bread off with her hands instead of using a knife.)

See, this is me sticking my proverbial middle finger up at the cliché rule without really breaking the cliché rule, despite there being quite a few in my ms. I've made it a character trait. Smart, huh? (tell me I'm smart pretty please with a cherry on top *fluttering eyelids until you say I'm smart* ;o)

How about you? Have you ever got fed up with the rules and tried to find a way to poke fun at them in your writing?

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  1. I think if it's part of your character then it's fine, rather humorous really. It would be different if you were to use it in your exposition. And I think poking fun of things is something writers do best. Esp. if it's well concealed and the reader doesn't realize what we're doing.

  2. I think that because language, out of necessity, needs rules that people tend to get bogged down by the rules. They forget that writing is an art. Like with any art, it should be played with, experimented with and should not be restricted completely by any bounds other than those of its creator. Many of the best authors broke rules.

  3. I am honestly getting a little fed up wit hall of these so-called rules of writing. Just a bit. If you are writing with the purpose of publishing, then I guess you should try to follow some rules. But if you have to throw out everything you enjoy just to get someone to publish your work, who are you writing for? Shouldn't you first write for yourself and then for the readers? So go ahead - rules are there for breaking!

  4. It's not cliche at all to have a character who overuses cliches. In fact, I don't think I've ever seen that done.

    It's like having a character who speaks in fragments, with terrible grammar, or in extremely purple prose. If it the character that's doing it, and not the author, it's not against "the rules" at all. It's just clever.

  5. I think it's very clever, and I agree with Matt--it might be the opposite of cliched!

  6. I love clichés and think secretly everyone else loves them too. They got to be cliché for a reason, didn't they?

  7. one amazing thing about "My so called life" was all the "likes" and "its so" and "You knows" it was real. written like teengaers. Its gatta be what its gatta be. Things liket hat are fun.

  8. Any writing "rule" can be broken, as long as you do it well. And it sounds like you are. :)

  9. i firmly believe there is a time and place for every cliche in writing and that as long as you understand it's a cliche, you'll be OK. Sometimes you just need to go with it.

  10. LoL, that sounds great! I like books that poke fun at things like this.

  11. I love the idea of playing around with the revered rules of writing and your character sounds like a great way to do exactly that!

  12. Ha! Love that you're a rebel! I pretty much hate rules.

  13. Words are meant to be spoken and rules are made to be broken.

  14. That's very clever, Jessica! If I break a rule, unfortunately it's not on purpose...

  15. Well, I mean, there are reasons that cliches are cliches. Mostly because they're often true. :)

  16. Funny!

    Rules are sometimes fun to break! And there are many examples of when rule breaking really pays off! (=

  17. I don't think it is breaking the rules if you use them in dialogue, afterall people do use clichés in every day conversations.

    Nothing wrong with breaking rules either!

    Ellie Garratt

  18. I think I frequently poke some fun in my writing, but I think it's usually missed by most and more of a private joke to entertain myself. I'm often a rebel and enjoy at least testing the limits if not outright breaking the rules. It used to get me in "trouble" in college on occasion.

    Tossing It Out

  19. What a great way to break that particular rule!
    Of course, I'm partial to anyone who quotes Waugh :-)

  20. Hi there,

    I love to poke fun through my characters.

    One of my teen characters at the moment is trying so hard NOT to be the typical teen and is totally and completely obsessed with stereotypes. So a lot of the book is poking fun at stereotypes, ironically while she is one herself.

    Makes for an amusing tale.

    Just got to be careful the reader doesn't think you are being serious, that is the hard part!

    Great blog!

    Sarah Ketley


“I'm using my art to comment on what I see. You don't have to agree with it.” ~John Mellencamp

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