Finding The Joy Of Writing

Over recent months, I’ve found myself fighting with the first major writer’s block of my short time as a blogger. My enthusiasm for writing in itself hasn’t diminished so it’s been a very confusing time in all honesty. A number of stories still swim through my head and I hold onto them as best I can but when it comes to putting them into words the way I’m used to, something always stops me.

I’ve written about writer’s block before but this has, by far, been the most mind boggling situation to find myself in. At first, I just tried to break through it and began experimenting with methods that would take me outside of my usual routine in order to stimulate a change in my mentality. From repainting my home to spending a weekend camping alone in the middle of nowhere, I was willing to try anything to break the block. Often I would think it was working but when the time came to write, even logging my experiences felt like a struggle.

For those who don’t know, I was a full time carer for someone when I first began blogging. I spent a lot of my time housebound and in a way, writing probably saved my sanity through that period of my life. I didn’t discuss my life as a carer but it gave me a focus other than what was right in front of me. I had no expectations for myself other than to love the very process of writing. The recognition and feedback of others was surprising but gratifying and over time, I began to hope that I could make something of this. Writing has been a passion unlike any other for me so finding myself unable to write has been infuriating and at times, even depressing.

Then I stopped being a carer shortly after the block began. I got a full time job and started to wonder if writing had just been an outlet to get me through a difficult phase of my life. I wondered if I’d be happier just stopping. And for a while, I did. Not once since then have I stopped wanting to write but it’s always ended the same way – with frustration, anger and usually a hasty surrender.

This post, on the other hand – and hopefully all future posts – is different. I’ve dwelt on the reason for these difficulties constantly and asked myself time and time again “How do I beat this?” with no answer in sight… That changed when I started asking a different question.

Why Do You Want To Beat This?

A creator is someone who makes something that starts as nothing but a mere thought. Through the creator that thought takes shape and with a bit of time, commitment and sometimes a little luck, it becomes something more. The end result can be whatever the creator decides they want it to be and because of that, the possibilities are limitless. A few words can be more powerful than a thousand and there will never be too many stories or songs in the world because the process in itself can take any shape or form.

There’s a joy in that process which can’t be clearly described. That may seem pretty rich coming from someone claiming to be a writer but that’s exactly the point. Creation isn’t definable, there’s no rule book to it but more often than not, we try to write the rules. It doesn’t take muck to see from my past posts that I’ve attempted just that.

When you focus more on defining the process than just enjoying the process itself, you stop creating. My theories on writing are just theories but I began to see them differently. They became rules that I had to abide by and through sharing those rules I put pressure on myself to get it right every time which goes against the very nature of a writer. I don’t want to be right all the time, but I want to write all the time. Forgetting that is what stopped me in my tracks for this long.

I’m writing publicly today with confidence for the first time in a long time because I’ve let go of those imaginary rules. I’m not going to get it right every time and neither are you. Writing isn’t about getting it right, it’s about expressing your passion and turning your thoughts into something you can take pride and joy in. If it gives that same joy to others then it’s a bonus, nothing more.

Don’t prioritise your work succeeding over the work itself. The creative industry as a whole is an amazing industry that all creators want to be a part of, we just don’t need to be. Love the process and hope that others around will enjoy it. If you create something with true love, chances are they will.

I think this post is written with love and I know it’s been written for me. I want that to be the case with everything I post going forward.

I’ll still hope you all enjoy it though.

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Descriptive Writing: Sharing Your World.

The single most incredible thing about writing is the imagery it can produce from mere text. The power to translate the words of a story into a clearly envisioned scene within the minds of readers is, for me, a truly beautiful gift for a storyteller to have.

That being said, I’ve always hated descriptive writing.My comfort zone has always been deeply rooted in writing dialogue but when it comes to writing, – particularly in prose – descriptive text isn’t something that can be avoided. It’s an absolute essential to the creation of an engaging story yet there are so many ways it can be done wrong.

Shattering The Illusion

I wouldn’t presume that to be down to inferior writing though. Sure, some writers may simply need to refine their abilities so they can provide a clearer image of the world they’ve created with words alone but in my experience that’s rarely the real problem. The most common crime in descriptive text is actually the complete opposite.

I don’t know about you folks but for me, there is nothing more off-putting in a story than a large wall of descriptive text providing in-depth information on something that seems pretty much irrelevant to the bigger picture of the story. Entire cities and landscapes can be described with giant blocks of text when only a small portion of what’s described has any relevance to the story itself.

This is quite possibly the biggest problem for writers to watch out for, whether they be aspiring authors or professional scriptwriters. When somebody falls in love with a story, it’s because they aren’t just reading words, they’re partaking in a new journey. How many times have you been lost in the worlds created by others and imagined yourself there in that moment? Perhaps you’ve seen yourself as the protagonist who leads that journey, or maybe you believed yourself a simple spectator.

The second a story is disrupted by descriptive text that doesn’t engage you, that journey falls apart in your mind. The illusion dissolves and you find yourself once again sitting with a mere collection of words. I’m ashamed to say as a passionate reader that on more than one occasion I’ve found myself skimming through large portions of an otherwise wonderful story for that very reason but I know I’m not the only one.

So how do we stop moments like that from happening? Where is the line between fine writing and too much information?

In my opinion, the problem isn’t so much about the line as it’s about how you as a writer perceive your own story.

See The World As The Character, Not The Writer.

Writing a story you truly love is one of the most exciting things a writer can do and we feel the need to share as much of that world as possible, especially when they’re set in worlds of our own creation.We strive to be as clearly descriptive as possible so that the reader can vividly see the world in their mind and feel the same excitement and passion for it as we do.

There’s one slight hitch with that though: It’s easy to forget that the average reader isn’t interested in what YOU see in this world you’ve created.

Now I know that sounds a little strange but just hear me out! You are the author, true…but after you’ve completed your task of actually writing this unique piece of fiction, are you relevant to the story at all? Does your personal vision of this world have any importance to what takes place or to the reader?

Of course not! It doesn’t matter that you are this world’s creator! Just like your readers, you are an outsider. Even if you decided to fashion one of the characters after yourself, you are not that character! It doesn’t matter if you’re the one pulling the strings of fate in this story because in the reader’s mind, you’re not the one leading the journey. That task falls to the characters themselves.

They are the ones your readers wish to follow, to relate to and empathize with. After all, they are the ones dealing with the challenges you’ve put before them! And so, it’s up to you to look through the eyes of your characters, see the world exactly as they see it and describe their perception of things rather than your own. If you can only see the world as yourself, an outsider, then you make outsiders of your readers as well.

Relevance To The Character Is What Matters

How many characters are going to fixate on the designs of a town hall’s floor tiles, or the changing flight patterns of birds in the skies or what each individual stranger they pass is wearing? How many characters contemplate what the standard attire of winter is when the story is set in Summer? Who can give the fine details on the practices of a religious organization they have no desire to be associated with just by passing one of their churches?

That kind of descriptive text isn’t necessary unless it’s relevant to your character or your story! While I have no doubt that you’ve created a truly rich and vibrant world for this story to take place in, you can’t expect the typical reader to take interest in these walls of information! Sure, they may want to know more about your world but they don’t want it to be forced upon them when it only serves to delay the progression of the story itself!

If you entered a strange place, what would you take notice of? What would you inquire about and what would you already know of it? How do you describe your hometown to a stranger within a few minutes and what do they ask when you’re finished?

These are the questions you need to ask when writing descriptive text because the reader doesn’t want all the answers at once and the ones they do want need to be relevant! Each sentence should paint a new coat of detail on the image in the reader’s mind and every detail should be of some importance to the journey in question.

Always look through the character’s eyes, not the writer’s. Something should only be noted in descriptive text if a character notices it and a new process should only be explained if the character understands it themselves.

Be the character describing their vision of the world, not the writer who sees all. You’re writing a story, not an encyclopedia.

And if you find yourself writing those large blocks of descriptive text, just stop and ask yourself: How can your readers feel a sense of discovery if you do all the discovering for them?

Stream Of Consciousness: It’s Fun To Write Dumb

Stream of Consciousness: To say or write the first thoughts that comes into your head without hesitation, no matter how disjointed, confusing or nonsensical they may be.

In celebration of writing about one of my favorite methods of brainstorming, I am going to perform this entire post using the tactic above. The only things I will edit afterwards are any spelling or grammar errors. If anything comes to mind, I will write it but because I myself can be a little disjointed, confusing and nonsensical, I apologize in advance for whatever God awful state this post becomes. Not that all my previous posts are particularly planned out, I’m a very disorganized individual at times and I swear often too so I’ll probably delete or censor any uses of the words “****, **** or *******.” Woops.

 

Anyway, onto the point of this drivel and that is what I like to call the “Stream of Consciousness.”

I first picked up this technique when I joined a community of writers and artists online. After spending several years without writing after losing a great deal of progress on a novel due to a PC breakdown, I was rusty and had no idea where to begin writing again. Luckily, this community was very active and had a lot of writing workshops going including what they call the “Writer’s Hot Seat.”

This involved a series of challenges or tasks which all amounted to writing 1000 or more words on a daily basis. Each session would have a particular theme and each day had a new objective. These typically lasted a week each Hot Seat.

The same week that I joined this community they were beginning a Hot Seat themed “Stream of Consciousness.” The challenge began with the first day being to write whatever the hell came to mind. The first thing I wrote amounted to “What the hell am I writing, why am I writing this, I don’t understand” and so on and so on until I just decided that it was too personal to put up publicly.

It essentially provided the ultimate outburst of every insecurity I had as a writer at the time. It outlined why I had stopped writing, how I felt stupid for letting a technical failure stop my passion and how I was concerned that I could quite possibly fail. Not at becoming a writer, I was concerned that I’d fail to even properly pursue it.

I read that stream and it gave me a surprising amount of insight into myself for speaking it. I could see where I’d hesitated to write and where the borderline was crossed into the “not give a ****” territory. That realization amused me and for some reason, it felt easier knowing that I didn’t have to hold back.

So rather than posting that personal block of text to the workshop, I wrote another 1000 words, this time beginning a story. I had no idea what I was writing about, all I can say just now is that it began with something about how worlds are created. As I wrote, I expected to be coming up with some rather typical fantasy plot. Until the first few sentences were finished and the story started to take form.

The second day was the same again with the general idea being that something new would be written but I broke the rules a little. Instead I continued the story I had worked on the day before, and I did this for the entire Hot Seat. In the case of this one, it was only five days long but those five days became the first draft of “Dream Lab.”

After the Hot Seat was completed, I looked at the results and felt completely refreshed. After years of discouragement from a single incident, I felt like I was a writer again. The fact that the spelling errors I’m going to have to correct later are at a minimum here is just a bigger boost in itself: Stream Of Consciousness saves the day again!

Seriously folks, you’ve probably heard the term “just write” a few times if you’re a writer seeking advice on how to churn out a story but I don’t think many of you will fully grasp what that means.

Just write really means just write. Put your fears and hopes and dreams in the middle of an important story narrative if they come to mind. Completely switch off from the fact that you’re typing and just type while you sit there staring into space like you’re on some kind of drug that I would never recommend for the creative process.

 

The brain is always active but it’s just like a muscle you regularly use. Imagine you’re punching a punchbag, if you pull your punches you won’t hit as hard. If you swing with all your might you aren’t as precise but you pack a mean punch when it connects.

That’s what your brain is doing when you let it loose with the stream. You miss so many times with the outbursts of self-doubt or what you think you’re going to watch on Netflix later (I prefer NowTv but can’t afford it, I’m still using my ex’s Netflix, if she doesn’t say anything why should I, right? Right?) (You see what I mean?) BUT when you connect with the target you started swinging for, you hit it hard!

Ignore your hesitant thoughts and your personal speculation about whether you’re writing anything of worth. THAT’S what “just write” means. It may feel like a fool’s errand when you start off but believe me, it’s worth putting in that extra force to each punch.

Because you could potentially hit gold at any moment.

An Empty Room: The Productivity Experiment

 

When the desire to get productive comes to mind, the brain can fixate on that desire, whether you want it to or not. It doesn’t matter if you’re suffering from a creative block or if you just don’t feel focused for the day, the human mind doesn’t always know how to switch off.

Now that’s great when you’re actually being productive but in those tough moments in between where you just don’t feel up to it, it can become a frustrating and almost painful distraction that hinders you rather than encourages.

During that time, you may find yourself mentally listing off the important things that you want to achieve for the day: Whether it’s utilizing and improving some of your creative talents or just getting the simple weekly chores that we all deal with out of the way so they won’t be hanging over you for the whole week.

Unfortunately, the reality rarely matches up to our expectations. In my case, the result is that I usually end up lying on my bed binge watching Netflix with a bottle of wine close at hand. Even as I relax to whatever TV show has caught my eye for the week, I continue to dwell on the fact that I should be doing something much more worthwhile with my free time…and yet I just keep on watching.

I argue to myself that I’m under the influence of alcohol by that point so I may as well wait until the morning to be productive… except that productive morning doesn’t arrive because either I sleep in thanks to the wine or I have other priorities to take care of. By the time I’m in a position to begin what I told myself I would do, I’m already in the mindset to begin the Netflix binge all over again.

It’s a vicious cycle and the longer it goes on, the more infuriating it can become. The worst part is how easy it is to fall into that routine. For the majority of aspiring writers, bloggers and other creators, the bulk of our early work is done from home. Whether it’s in our bedrooms, our lounges or wherever else we see fit, there’s always a spot somewhere in the household that becomes your regular creative space. For the sake of this post, I’ll presume that most of you do so in the privacy of your own bedroom; A typical safe space at home for people of all ages and backgrounds.

The downside to that space is that it’s usually your regular space for most other things as well. In many of today’s societies, a person’s bedroom can contain a television, a computer, at least a shelf’s worth of reading material, perhaps even a gaming console, a musical instrument or two and the limitless content of the internet to peruse, all at your disposal from a single location. Essentially, that one space has the potential for all work AND all play and as is human nature, we regularly choose play when we shouldn’t.

The timing for me to suffer from my own personal writer’s block has been pretty auspicious, as I’d already been long overdue to repaint the walls of my rather mangy bedroom. Therefore, I decided to implement that inevitable chore into my first attempt to find the off switch for my brain.

Typically, I would ask for help from some friends in something like this, especially when I’d never actually painted a room alone before now. However, if I’m not distracting myself at home then I’m usually distracting myself at a bar with friends. No doubt they’d suggest the entire paint job be done with a crate of beer at our disposal (and that would defeat the whole point of this experiment) so in the end, I decided to go it alone. After emptying the room of all furnishings and gadgets, I put on my old radio and got to work.

There’s something rather therapeutic about painting when you have the right tools but after a few hours, the discount roller I was using began to bend, making the job much more time consuming and tedious to the point that I thought I would abandon the job altogether. I grew more and more frustrated until the only thing keeping me painting was the realization of how stupid a half-painted room would look. Suffice to say, I was rather pessimistic for a time at the thought of recounting this experience with you all as I expected it to yield little to no results.

When the job was finally finished however, the relief was instantaneous. It wasn’t with a sense of achievement, but rather that of a burden being removed. I sat on the floor in the middle of the room, observing my handiwork cautiously for any mistake that would force me off the ground once more to resume the job.

But there were none. I’d completed my task and if I do say so myself, I’d done a rather fine job of it! I switched off the radio and took a moment to relax on the carpet. I began mentally preparing myself to stand up so I could wash the paint from my hands but I felt too exhausted to move. Instead I just sat there and closed my eyes, basking in the silence for a moment.

I didn’t sleep. I didn’t even lie down on the carpet beneath me. I simply sat and listened to the occasional noises that sounded from the open window. I found it strange how sounds change when a room changes. The echoes carry in such a way that I began to understand a little about how bats can navigate so well at night by sound alone. I could almost feel the walls around me and there was a sense of safety in knowing how far I was from any other obstacle.

After a time, I stopped thinking about the sounds. I stopped thinking about anything although I was still aware that I was awake. I was simply content in the quiet escape I had from my usual distractions.

When I finally stood up, I felt more relaxed that I have done in weeks. I plugged in my laptop and began writing, heedless of the dried paint I was shedding onto the keyboard. It wasn’t the quality of the writing that had particularly changed, or the quantities that I produced. It just flowed more freely for me, as if the pressure of trying to be productive was gone from my mind…at least for a time.

I’ve only just scratched the surface on how some hard work and a moment of meditation can help to settle the mind and give it fresh focus. There are still a lot of questions left unanswered: Did I benefit more from the fatigue of painting with a broken roller or was it all in the tranquility that came after? Or must the two always coincide?

I plan to explore both separately to further distinguish the effects they have on the mindset of the creator. I plan to test them in new environments to see just how accessible the best experience can be.

It’s still early days in the Productivity Experiment and I only have this one experience to go on so far…but right now, I honestly can’t imagine a more peaceful place to be than an empty room.

Igniting Creation: The Productivity Experiment (An Introduction)

Feel free to correct me in the comments if I’m wrong… but I think it’s safe to say that we all have those phases in our lives where we just don’t feel like being productive at all.

It can be for long periods or short periods and it can happen for any number of reasons. Maybe you’re occupied with other hobbies or events. Maybe you’re having some personal upheaval in your life that puts your creative work further down on the priority list…Or maybe you just can’t be bothered at this moment in time.

It’s totally natural to have days or even weeks like that but there’s a certain point where it starts to feel like you’ve been unproductive for WAY too long and that can be worrying. Worse yet, that worry in itself can make it even more difficult to get back into the swing of things since you begin to force yourself to work out of a sense of urgency rather than genuine passion for your craft.

Everybody suffers from moments like this and that’s perfectly normal but there really is no definitive answer on how to break the cycle. Must we force ourselves to perform our craft despite a temporary lack of enthusiasm for it or must we wait for the thrill of our work to return before we can continue the craft?

While I’ve previously written about “The Creative Mind: Battling The Block,” the article was written as an untested theory based on previous experience and the opinions of like-minded individuals. However, after acquiring an artist for my primary illustrated project, I have been finding extreme difficulty in preparing the next installment of a story I have been working on for quite some time and this recent writer’s block is feeling particularly burdensome. Therefore, I’ve decided to take direct action in order to bring back the excitement for writing that led me on the path I’m walking today.

Over the next month, I’m going to experiment with several methods that can potentially reignite the enthusiasm and creativity of those who are struggling on their personal path as a creator. I will be making changes to my personal life in order to test what affects the mindset of a creator, both positively and negatively.

 

I will then be documenting my findings for you all in the hope that some of it will be relevant to your own personal dilemmas as creators. I will update as frequently as possible to report my findings… whether it yields helpful advice, disappointed ramblings about zero results or just hilarious experiences, I will make sure that you know it all.

The general aim of these experiments is to partake in activities that are:

  • Low budget.
  • Accessible to anyone.
  • Easy to organize.
  • As far from my own personal comfort zone as I can manage.

Rather than posting my to-do list, I’m just going to pledge to begin these experiments beginning Monday 1st August and present my findings as I go, as quickly and coherently as possible. Generally, I’ll be testing new experiences, both alone and in a social group which will preferably not be a group I am familiar with.

 

So for my final words I’d like to give a quick thank you to the 40 followers I currently have reading my ramblings and for anyone new tuning in, I hope you stick around long enough to read my findings! While the first experiment will begin Monday, it may take a few extra days to put up a post stating whether or not I’ve become more or less productive after my experiences. Hopefully it’ll be the latter!

Wish me luck and I hope you enjoy the results!

 

 

Getting Inside Your Protagonist’s Head

The Protagonist Is Always The Most Important Character…Even When They’re Not.

How often do you read a story and imagine yourself in the shoes of the protagonist? Did you have a character or superhero that you wished you could be when you were younger? Or perhaps you would read about their adventures and ask yourself if you would have made the same choices they did if it was happening to you?

Chances are this happens all the time, even when the protagonist is nothing special. No matter what perspective somebody writes from, readers will usually experience a story from the same perspective as the main protagonist(s). It’s the most natural viewpoint for them to imagine things from and in many good stories, they’ll imagine it as if they themselves are that character. It’s natural, and it’s the sign of a good protagonist that readers can relate to.

Therefore it’s important when writing a story to ensure that you understand the way your protagonist thinks and acts. This is important for any character central to your story really.

Now this can come naturally but sometimes it can seem daunting, especially if you’re writing about a personality that doesn’t coincide with your own. It’s harder to emulate someone who is introverted when you yourself are extroverted and vice versa.

You may not be able to base a character like that off of yourself but there’s always someone else you could base them on?

The Whole World Is A Reference

There are over 7 billion people in the world today and every single one of them is unique.There can be similarities in their appearance, personality, dressing style, culture, sense of humor and so on and so forth but when it’s all combined into one person, it’s always a brand new combination. Isn’t that amazing?

We only engage with a small fraction of those people throughout our lives and yet we will still encounter at least tens of thousands of unique personalities. Some we’ll get to know over a matter of years and some we’ll only know for a few moments but each one will be new in some shape or form. You’re having trouble finding a reference for your next protagonist? There’s references all around you!

You may not understand these people fully but you can still question what influences and motivates them from a distance. When you think about it, that’s all we really do in life; Question what drives the people around us, even ourselves. You don’t need all the answers to create a protagonist that readers relate to.

Characters Don’t Need To Seem Real To Be Understood

Writers spend a lot of time trying to create “believable” characters but what does that even mean? Usually it comes down to what the writer (or society) views as normal but yourself have probably met a few people in your life that don’t fit that criteria.

I mean, I’ve met a man with three sets of headphones around his neck and a luminous safety jacket dancing on a bus despite the headphones not actually being on his head! I’ve had a drunk try to hit me because she didn’t like my choice of Chinese takeaway food and I’ve watched a performance of acoustic love songs dedicated to Jennifer Aniston by a green haired gentleman who introduced himself off-stage as Hybrid! He also invited me to join him on a trip to London to bring down Parliament, what a nice chap.

My point is, some people are more unique than you’d expect but the only thing different about them is what influenced them to become who they are today! The unpredictability of human beings is the most obvious and believable thing in the world, it doesn’t matter if that uniqueness is caused by a person’s biology, culture, upbringing, health, personal experiences or in my examples, probably drugs!

What’s important is that you question the motives and influences of these characters you aren’t familiar with and try to see things through their eyes.

Understanding Growth

You have to be honest with yourself as to how you yourself have changed and grown as a person over time, for better or worse. Question what influences made you the way you are, for better or worse and compare that to someone who completely different to you.

What would it have taken in your life for you to turn out like them? Would it need to be something big or just a small series of events that could have turned you in a different direction? How would you act differently in that life?

When you begin to answer those questions you start to get inside the head of your characters and understand them better, even if you don’t have all the right answers. Try to dive into the shoes of the character that stems from those questions because it’s from those same shoes that readers will perceive your story.

Some people think that this requires some knowledge in psychology but I think it’s simply a case of developing some empathy. The world is all about people and our stories are no different. It benefits your writing – and your life – if you try to understand them.

 

Do Cliches Prevent Original Writing?

There’s generally a negative mentality towards the overuse of the classic ‘tropes’ in all forms of storytelling. It doesn’t matter if it’s on television or in writing, it seems that the majority of aspiring writers either look down on stories that enter the realm of cliches or they judge everything they write with the fear that their story will seem unoriginal.

Professional Fantasy Author Brent Weeks (a personal favorite of mine) even makes a joke about this in The Night Angel trilogy by having an antagonist claim to be the protagonist’s father as a jest. Until the jest is revealed, it is intentionally reminiscent of the classic “Luke, I am your father” trope from the original Star Wars movies. Whether he would have preferred to use the cliche seriously or simply wanted to make the reference as a joke is always up for debate but in the end, he used it in a unique way that entertained his readers.

This particular example was a jest but does that mean that cliche moments can only be used in jest for them to seem vaguely original? Before we can decide that, we should look at what’s considered “cliche” and what isn’t. The only problem is that while I was researching this, I found that the difference in opinion is staggering when it comes to a specific definition.

It didn’t just extend to common story tropes like “the hero with a tragic past” or popular match-ups like “vampires versus werewolves” either. Simple phrases like “pot calling the kettle black” and even the words “cool” and “awesome” were targeted by some people as overused cliches. The definition seems so broad these days that the term “cliche” is becoming meaningless to some people. The question most writers seem to be asking is more often “What ISN’T cliche?”

However, I finally found someone that provided a definition for what cliche is that made sense to me. Creative writer/artist/youtuber Cy Porter states that an effective event in writing becomes cliche when it is overused to a point that it is no longer effective to the audience.

Rather than narrowing things down, this led to me asking myself many more questions. It’s widely argued that writers as a whole may have already tried every genre or scenario possible at least once already. Does that mean everything can be cliche? I like to think that’s not the case.

In many situations, there are actually logical reasons for something to be used frequently other than how effective it was the first time around. A tragic hero would be less likely to set out on his heroic journey if he was completely content with a happy life at home. The same applies to the villains of our stories, would they antagonize our hero if they didn’t have something trigger their descent down that dark path? Readers enjoy these common characters because they can relate to them no matter which side they’re on.

There are also times that something is labelled as a common cliche just for being normal. LitReactor posted an article that listed “10 Storytelling Cliches That Need To Disappear Forever” and included “blaming bad behavior on bad parenting” as one of the worst cliches in writing. As much as I respect the writers of Litreactor, I couldn’t disagree more with that statement. Blaming bad behavior on bad parenting was never an idea conjured up in a story. The reason it’s used so often is because it’s such a common opinion in actual society. That can’t be considered a cliche in storytelling, that’s just a typical occurrence in life!

I suppose when it comes down to it, it just depends on how much you decide to generalize things (or how much you want to nitpick). A horror story about a group of students on a trip that goes horribly wrong might be considered cliche but the events themselves and the way that the story is portrayed can still be unique. There’s a big difference between a theme that’s considered cliche and the story itself being a cliche.

If you enjoy certain genres or tropes and you’re feeling inspired, why should you avoid writing your own unique story for it? Instead of shying away from something popular, why not focus more on proving there’s still original stories to be found there?

After all, there’s a ton of typical zombie flicks out there yet I still keep watching them. Some stories don’t even need to be good to stay unique…