(Note, this entry was originally meant to be longer and slightly more convoluted, but due to time constraints I must cut it short. Feel free to engage me in the comments, though.)
I write fantasy novels. Working on two series right now. One is high fantasy and the other could probably be best explained as urban fantasy.
You know what that means.
I write cliches.
Fantasy gets a lot of bad rap when it comes to cliches, because, you know, we’re all ripping off Tolkien. (Never mind that Tolkien was heavily inspired by works that came before him as well.) And to credit, a lot of fantasy novels do make use of “tired” cliches: group quest, save the world, etc. etc. Hell I freely admit to using cliches in my works, because that’s just how a character’s life plays out Farmboy becomes swordsman: check. Beautiful, powerful sorceress: check. “Feisty” tomboy: check. Intellectual member of a royal family: check. (And to come, race of all female warriors.) Oh my, I do have my work cut out for me when it comes to making my story not so painful to read.
However, I think people put way too much hate into tiresome cliches. And yes, I am biased. I’ve been reading fantasy since I was five years old. I bathe in horrible 80′s fantasy movies. (Krull ftw kthnx). I, as aforementioned, write fantasy. And yes, there are definitely some instances in which cliches are just horrible and need to go find a proverbial fire to die in. It’s always fairly obvious when an author hasn’t taken their given list of cliches to work with and hasn’t done much of anything with them…aside from just using them. What’s great about fantasy is that it lets us take what’s been done before and inject our own personalities and world views into what we think such a fantasy world would be like. When we read fantasy novels, the goal is to walk away knowing how the author made the world their own. If we walk away saying “Huh. That author’s world told me nothing more than other author’s story did”, then, to quote the internet, they did it wrong.
Searching for “fantasy cliches” in Google gets one a lot of results. From humorous lists to serious forum discussions, everyone has an opinion on ye olde cliches. What’s hilarious, though, is how many lists go on for pages and pages (from one person, no less), and implying that any author that utilizes any of them needs to stop writing right now. These lists include all the classics, of course, but then you can’t help but start laughing because they tend to also include things like “slaves”, “character with long hair”, “character with short hair”, “character with two arms”…well, you get the point. Pretty much every type of character and every plot point conceivable these days is considered to be cliche, and heaven forbid if you do use a few cliches and try to imbrue them with your own thoughts.
On that note, you know what? Life is cliche. Seriously. I don’t know how many people around me do the same thing. (Go to school, go to college, get jobs, get married, procreate, die, yadda yadda). It’s tiring and predictable. But you know what else? Most of those people are doing those same things in their own way and style. Sure, some follow the “life script”, but it’s the same way that some authors follow the “fantasy script”. Annoying? Yes. But we move on to more interesting things.
For as many fantasy stories as there are now…it seems nearly impossible to come up with something “original”. But what is original? And what’s more annoying? Somebody writing with cliches or somebody trying to avoid cliches so hard that their story makes no damn sense?
Now excuse me, I’m going to go write about my farmboy and sorceress meeting for the first time. It’s probably cliche.