Tuesday, November 28, 2017

[Link] Story plots: 7 tips to be more original

Clichéd story plots weaken an otherwise good story, a story where characters and settings are vivid. To tell a story that feels original and inventive, it’s key to learn plot clichés to avoid. Yet many original stories do use common tropes. The key is to make famous story types and scenarios your own:

1: Know common plot clichés within your genre

In story plots, clichés are frustrating because they’ve been hollowed out of their dramatic impact through overuse. Dragons that go on rampages overpopulate fantasy worlds. Women in distress who need men to save them overpopulate romance novels.

Here are a few more common plot clichés:


  • The chosen one: A character has been selected for a task but there’s no backstory or explanation why only this person in particular is capable
  • It was all a dream: Strange things happen but turn out to be dreams (often solving plot complications a little too conveniently for the author)
  • Representative of another culture gives clueless protagonist profound wisdom: Another example of a common plot cliché, especially in books from earlier times that either romanticized indigenous people or portrayed them as savages (this example courtesy of Strange Horizons)
  • In each of these examples, there is either a cop-out or an overused trope (a ‘trope’ is a literary device that occurs across multiple novels by various authors).


In the first example, there is nothing to explain what is so special about ‘the chosen one’. J.K. Rowling avoids the cliché of ‘the chosen one’ in Harry Potter by giving Harry a past link to the villain that explains exactly why it is he in particular who must fulfill the challenge.

In the ‘it was all a dream’ plot, there is always a risk of a cop-out. The revelation that characters have been dreaming can seem too trite or tidy an explanation for bizarre or puzzling events.

The third example is a plot point rather than an entire story idea. But it tells something valuable about being original: It’s better (for creative as well as political reasons) not to simply repeat received, dominant ideas. Stereotypes are the footmen of unoriginal stories and dangerous politics. The ‘exotic’ foreigner (or indigenous other) is likely to be just as full of flaws and folly as a protagonist.

Read the full article: http://www.nownovel.com/blog/story-plots-original-7-tips/