Friday, February 4, 2011

Oh no, not another cliche!

It was actually a blog post that I was reading that sparked this topic, and it has been interesting to see where each Gripper took it.

The blogger was bemoaning the fact that another vampire romance had just come out. She was complaining basically that if you have read one, you have read them all.

As a writer, I was set back. True, there are some authors that follow the set cliche plotlines for specific types of stories, and don't add their own spin. But without reading the story to determine if the author had done that or not, the blogger just made the assumption that if you had read one vampire romance you had read them all.

That would be like me saying if you have read one story involving dragons, you have read them all. Yet, I know that to be false.

Yes ... plotline are recycled, reused, and reworked by authors. As someone mentioned earlier this week, there are only so many of them. It's what the author does with each that counts.

For example, vampires are vampires, are vampires, right? Um, wrong.

Lisabet and I both have vampire ebooks out, but if you read them both, you will see they are not the same plotline, the same vampires recycled. (Fire in the Blood by Lisabet - TotalEBound and Blood Slave by Me - Phaze). Each of us has a different world we have created, with different rules.

J R Ward writes about tortured vampires (Black Dagger Brotherhood), but not in the same way as Anne Rice did. Angela Knight has given her latest addition to the vampire romance genre a different twist with merging her world with Camalot/Avalon legends (Mageverse series).

Mary Janice Davidson took hers into the chick lit, humerous, realm (the Undead/Betsy Books), as did Michele Bardsley (Brokenheart Ok), but still their worlds are far, far apart in style and concept.

It's when an author falls into a rut with their writing that I start to see cliche's coming at me. There is one author who I hung in with for quite a few books books, buying them all faithfully, and then the novelty wore off. The books were becoming cliche - all of them cookie cutter reproductions of the stories already told. I got to the point I couldn't tell the characters apart anymore in my own head. They all bleed together. Now, I borrow them from the library, because there are two sub-characters I want to know more about, who are still distinct in my mind. And because I want to know the over-all arc of the storyline, which is still intriguing. I skip almost all of the relationship stuff between the main characters in the books now - which is truly sad, but it just got boring. (Not revealing the author here - because opinions can and do vary, and I am not going to trash another author. I will however state my opinion, in general terms, as to the plotlines without giving too much away.)

So when I read posts, or hear people talking, where an entire sub-genre has been reduced to cliches, it does make me question my own writings. Have I worked to create distinct, different views on things? Considering my vampires in Blood Slave are blind, I think I have a different spin on things.

Cliches themselves can be a good thing, as an overarcing plotline. The devil just needs to be in the details. There needs to be variation, and stretching of the author's writing abilities, a new world created. It needs to read distinct - different.


  1. This is why I burn out on series after about the fifth book. It doesn't matter what the genre is - action/adventure, mystery, erotica disguised as horror - eventually, the sexual tension is so strained that it strains credulity, the conflicts don't feel as real as the one in the first book, and you start to see the writer's crutches.

  2. It seems odd to me that those who say "all [insert vilified genre of your choice] books are the same,read one, read em all" never apply the same thinking to mainstream lit fic.

    Imagine it:

    "Yet again we are subjected to the struggles of another over-educated under-achieving intellectual, battling early 21st Century existenial panic by questing fruitlessly for meaning and settling for an opportunity for redemption. How many times are we expected to believe that people actually worry about this shit when the could be watching sports, jacking off to porn or be shopping at the mall. When will these lit fic nerds learn that their problem is THEY DON'T HAVE A LIFE and get over it?"


    Got carried away there.

    Anyway, you know what I mean.

    I'm with you. The interestig part of most fiction is what makes it different from its peers.

  3. Kathleen - I have only found three authors so far that after 6 books I am still addicted.

    Kay Hooper with her Bishop series. (murder mystery, paranormal, light romance)

    J R Ward with her Black Dagger Brotherhood. (these books are like mental crack! addictively good damnit!)

    Nalini Singh with the Psy/Changeling series (although, I admit, some are much better than others)

    All others, I often find myself borrowing from the library, and possibly going for a used copy, by the 4-6th book. Sometimes, I wish the arc was done in 4-6 books. Just because you CAN continue a series doesn't mean that you SHOULD. Let it die off in dignity, and with as much bang as the first book, instead of whimpering along for the last 20 of so.

    Sorry - long reply, and really, I should have told you how I felt huh? LOL

  4. Mike - I think part of the problem is we are slowly becoming a world of lowest common denominators. Look at the TV shows. Shows like Num3ers, Lie To Me, Bones, Millennium, Babylon 5, House, Profiler, etc where there is actual CONTENT mixed with entertainment to them have limited shelf-life. Yet reality TV shows where the more kids you have, the higher your ratings, and all the drama and mock-facing death crap, draws in viewers by the droves and get renewed year after year after year. Even the news has to be entertaining, even as it supposedly informs, or people won't watch.

    So for many in a world full of short attention span mass population, of course if you have read one, you have read them all. I am surprised sometimes that they have read one. (Harsh, I know! But you would be shocked by how many college kids, and adults, I know who admit freely that they don't read unless they have to for a class!)

  5. Great post, Michelle (and thanks for the plug!) You really can't tell how good a book will be based on its genre. On the other hand, there ARE a lot of cookie cutter vampire erotic romances (and shape shifters etc.) and I do sometimes lose patience.

    Mike - a brilliant parody! Who knew you were as funny as you are incisive?

  6. I will admit, I am guilty of generalizing sub-genres. As a rule of thumb, I don't read vampire books anymore. I just can't bring myself to do it. I've read so many vampire books last year, I could throw up. I'm tired of vampires. I want to move on. But no, everyone and their grandmother is writing yet ANOTHER vampire book. I get it. Vampires are popular. "Twilight" has opened the market again. And it sells. Hurray.

    BUT I'm wanting something else, though. The flavor of the month has changed for me. Of course there are awesome vampire books out there I'm passing up by boycotting vamps at the moment (and I'll probably get to them when I want to read about vampires again) But for now? I need a break!

    The same thing goes for zombies, dragons, and werewolves. Hang around the horror/paranormal circuit long enough, and eventually you'll get tired of seeing the same things over and over again too.

    Not bashing authors who write about vamps, weres, zombies and dragons...*I* just choose not to write it or read it for now.


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