[process] Writing Cliches of the Personal Kind

Author Shanna Germaine talks about her personal cliches in writing. It’s kind of a funny list. She covers both things she returns to a lot, and things which are absent in her writing. After eight novels and close to three hundred short stories, I’m not sure much of anything is absent from my writing, but I certainly do return to a lot of things. In no particular order, and off the top of my head, here are some of my tropes:

  • Lost boys
  • Absent fathers
  • Absent mothers
  • Frightening grandfathers/distant male authority figures
  • Zeppelins
  • Angels
  • An absent God
  • People angry at the world
  • Talking animals
  • Gentle humanism
  • Reversal of gender roles
  • The “key man” theory of history
  • The price of magic/power/belief
  • Place, place, place
  • Self-discovery
  • Personal responsibility
  • The question of “who counts”
  • And of course these days, cancer, cancer, cancer

What do you find in your work, over and over?

Snurched from Shanna Germain at Year of the Word.

8 thoughts on “[process] Writing Cliches of the Personal Kind

  1. With one exception, everything that I have written in the past year has been apocalyptic in some sense. The only one that has not been is a story inspired by your dream about a wooden airport terminal.

    I always have a strong, angry female lead, even if she is one of several protagonists.

    I say too much about people’s faces.

    I kick authority in the junk, or hurl a raging zombie at them or something.

    I project a strong dislike of organized religion, but a strong enthusiasm for personal codes of ethics.

  2. Bryan Schmidt says:

    Good question. So far both my novels and a few stories, deal with a sense of finding a place to belong and self-discovery. The father-issues theme is definitely one my mind a lot, and I also use spiritual differences/quests a lot. As one who loves culture crossing, I deal with assumptions/stereotypes cause misconceptions a lot as well. I’ll definitely have to think about this more.

  3. Cora says:

    Things you’ll find in my fiction:

    – love triangles
    – women choosing the not conventionally handsome over the conventionally handsome guy
    – characters with abusive backgrounds
    – prison, torture and execution scenes
    – self injury and suicidal tendencies
    – villains wearing capes, cloaks, hoods and masks
    – secret and double identities
    – lots of hair, long hair, unruly hair, hair being brushed back from faces, etc… Usually either red or dark, blondes are rare
    – jewelery, with or without magic powers
    – awkward sex
    – dilapidated and decaying settings
    – seaside settings
    – pop culture references
    – food
    – There’s always at least one communist, no matter when or where the story is set.
    – That guard with the dental hygiene issues who shows up again and again

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