The Problem With Cliche Storylines.

3 July 2018

  Harry Potter Img srced from Pinterest & copyright to Warner Bros

Everyone complains about genre cliches, particularly in YA books. And I get it, they can be annoying. But as someone writing a YA book, I've discovered the main problem with cliche storylines:  You can't avoid them.
Everything, pretty much, has been done before.

Let me illustrate using a couple of successful examples.

Here's the theory:

THE PROTAGONIST
1. A young, fiery, independent female. (Hunger Games, Gender Games, Divergent...)
2. A dependant, weak female relying on help. (Sexist!!!!)
3. An orphan, because who cba writing in parents and it gives them a bit of trauma. (Harry Potter, Batman, Oliver Twist)
4. Someone where actually family is key and a strong relationship in the book. (Frozen, Caraval, Fault in our Stars.)
5. Strong protagonist - ('Why are they always so lucky? It's so predictable.' Jace, Shadowhunters, Viggo, Gender Games)
6. Weak protagonist - ('Why are they so annoying? Why can't they do anything for themselves?' Bella, Twilight and Scarlett, Caraval.) 

THE ROMANCE
1. Unrequited love. (Bella and Jacob.)
2. Girl and boy hate each other then fall in love. (Every romcom film ever.)
3. Pair in love find out they are related. (Shadowhunters.)
4. Pair fall in love but can't be together. (Hunger Games, Twilight.)
5. Pair fall in love instantly and work amazingly. (Every insta-love YA book ever. Gender Games.)
6. All about the sex. (50 Shades.)
7. Love triangles. (EVERY YA BOOK EVER. Hunger Games. Twilight. blablabla.)
8. Realizing they are were in love with their best friend all along. (Harry Potter.)
9. Gay couple with one struggling to accept sexuality. ('How dare anybody write about this struggle unless they themselves are gay?' Shadowhunters.)
10. Gay couple struggling with homophobic society. ('How dare anybody write about this struggle unless they themselves are gay?' Shadowhunters)
11. Gay couple who don't encompass any gay stereotypes at all. ('Poorly written gay characters, the writer just doesn't understand.')

 THE STORYLINE
1. Good against bad. (Every story ever, because the reader always needs a side to root for.)
2. Protagonist thrown into a war as a prophet or unwilling participant. (Katniss, Harry Potter.)
3. Protagonist born and trained to fight against evil. (Shadowhunters, Charmed, Buffy.)
4. Protagonist must find powerful object before evil villain does. (Harry Potter, Shadowhunters.)
5. Protagonist must kill evil villain so their reign ends with their death. (Game of Thrones.)
6. Protagonist must sit back and do nothing and let the villain do as he pleases. (No storyline whatsoever.)
7. Protagonist dies. (Game of Thrones.)
8. Nobody dies. ('So unrealistic'.)

I could go on forever. The fact is, no matter WHAT you write, it's probably been done before in some way, shape or form. Cliche's don't exist anymore becasue every story will end up following a pre-existing  outline in some form.

What makes a book interesting are the characters, the world-building, the themes, the writing style and how the reader connects with the protagonist.

I tweeted the other day saying the reason for one person's 1* review is the same reason for another person's 5* review.

Do you agree?

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