Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Create a Page-Turner: Get Away from Cliches

I see authors fall into this problem: writing not just cliche characters but cliche scenes. Let me give you an example: a scene in a police department. Every single element is exactly what you would expect. The hot-head police captain, the lesbian police officer, the heated argument over the case. These kinds of staid and expected scenes lower the quality and originality of the storytelling. They accomplish critical negatives: the reader is non-plussed with the lack of imagination and knows exactly what to expect with the outcome, because it all so "been there done that".

In fresh and original writing, the scene becomes less obvious and unexpected. In building originality, the writer decorates the canvas with new and colorful interactions. For example, instead of the hot-head police captain we have the soft-spoken maybe even effeminate leader who gets his way with a softer, kinder and more important unexpected approach. The female officer is a bohemian goddess who wears inappropriate feather earrings and espouses the virtues of "some" illegal substances to the annoyed officers who remind her they can't promote drug use. You can only imagine the scenes created with these two characters alone -- more original and unexpected material.

The only caveat: you do have to ensure that however you write the colorful characters you make sure they are there for a point to drive the story forward and not bog it down in useless minutia. This point also emphasizes the need to make sure all plot points push the story forward. Fast-paced storytelling that makes sense sucks in the reader and creates a true page-turner.

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