**Edited to add that I was actually further into the book I’m talking about below than I thought–so about nine chapters instead of two. Sorry! I just realized it when I listened to the book at the gym this morning. I also edited a few typos but I’m sure there are more :-)**
There was a weekend? I worked for most of it. I’m getting through my most troublesome part of the revision and pretty danged happy about that. I just stopped to dash off this blog.
Now let’s see if I have enough brain cells to articulate something I’m thinking about: Clichés. Here’s a truth a lot of writers (me included!) don’t want to admit.
They work when they are handled right.
I started listening to an audio version of a NYT bestselling author’s latest book. It’s getting rave reviews, and her rankings on books sales are awesome–so good, I easily think it’ll hit all the lists next week. I’m only two chapters into the story, but this baby is bursting with clichéd scenes for a romance.
Rich, powerful hero, check.
Struggling heroine, check.
Hero only wants a one night stand, check.
Heroine demands a real relationship, check.
Exhausted hero persuades heroine to have sex, then falls asleep waiting for her, check.
They sleep together that night with no sex, check.
Heroine has a gay friend who makes guy jealous at rich society party, check.
Hero sweeps heroine up in his arms at same party and whisks her away to his lair (uh bedroom) check.
Heroine ultimately refuses sex, she’s going to make him prove he wants more, check.
And we’re only a few freaking chapters in! I’m telling you guys, this book is exploding with so many clichés, they are oozing in rivers down my arms as I listen. Half of me is actually laughing in my head, like…ROTFLMAO. But..
Another part of me is captivated. Like…I’ll keep listening. I’ll drag my chocolate inspired ass to the gym this morning just to hear what happens next. Why???
Well clichés work…when they are in the hands of the right author. And this author? She can write a story. Even when my editorial brain is picking it apart, actually clutching her belly and roaring with laughter at yet another romance cliche, another part of me needs to know what happens to these characters. Why is the hero so damaged? Will the heroine with her abusive past find love with such a damaged man? And there’re the subtleties beneath the clichés. Another man (not the gay friend) is lurking deep in the shadows of this tale, and his story is not a cliché at all, making him stand out. Why’s he there? Is this going to be a torn between two lovers story? Or something else… And there’s a dark theme of past abuse crouched low and tense, waiting to spring.
I suspect this story is not going to be a typical romance, but starting off with all these cliches gives the reader a sense of safety and trust in the book and author. Clichés work because they are familiar. We know what it means when a man tucks a strand of a woman’s hair behind her ear–it’s intimate and caring. Wizard often pulls a strand of my hair off my cheek, but no other man touches me that way. It would set off my creep radar if they did. Clichés can be shortcuts at times, little familiar bread crumbs leading us into the real story.
And okay, this author uses a LOT of those cliché bread crumbs but she’s sprinkled in all these other fresh crumbs; great characters, beautiful writing, subtleties brewing beneath the surface that brush the staleness off those overused clichés and make me hold my breath as I listen wondering what twist is coming.
In the hands of the right author, clichés can work.
And that’s my deep and rambling thoughts this weekend, Otherwise, I’m buried in my revisions and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.
How was your weekend?