How to know if your novel is original and not cliché. Take this quiz:
1) Does your novel have a vampire as one of the main characters? Yes or No
2) Does your heroine meet the hero, but by complete accident (he shows up out of nowhere) at the local library? The school library? The college library? Any library? Yes or No
3) Is your female MC oblivious to the fact that she is the key to saving the world? She has special powers (mind reading, mind blocking, unleashed ninja skills)? Yes or No
4) Does your story begin with one of the following: Yes or No
a) Girl/woman jogging?
b) Girl/woman fingering a necklace that hangs around her neck (a symbol, she has yet to figure out)?
c) It’s raining?
d) Girl/female looking out the window as the rain falls?
5) Does your female/male MC meet for the first time the male/female MC in the office of the high school? The secondary MC just so happens to be a new kid in town? Yes or No
6) Does your novel start off with a chase scene or a character fleeing something or someone? Yes or No
7) Does your main character just wake up from a dream? Yes or No
8) Is your MC warned not to do something, but does it anyway and all hell breaks out? Y or N
9) Does your MC have to find a mate or else? Y or N
10) Does your female MC find herself in a sticky situation, and the male MC comes to the rescue?
If you answered YES to any of the above, I don’t know how original an idea you have—more like a possible cliched plot or at the very least, a very cliched beginning. Be warned.
I just finished judging some entries for the Utah Romance Writers of America’s Heart of the West writing completion. And boy let me tell you, I was blown away at how many of the stories opened with the very same plot idea or theme. Now don’t get me wrong, we have genres for a reason, people come to expect certain things to happen when reading mystery or romance or paranormal, etc . . . I get that.
But when I start a novel in which the woman is out having a jog and then runs into (insert any of the following: vampire, alien, etc . . . ) and then I pick up another novel and it begins the same way, I get worried.
--Three of the entries I judged had a girl that wore a mystery necklace that she NEVER took off, ever.
--Two started out with a teenage girl in the library where she meets the super, uber, amazingly handsome hero.
--Two started out with female jogging and coming upon a) alien life form in the woods b) a fallen angel.
--Two had werewolves or, a slight difference, a werebear.
--Two had the male MC in need of finding a mate or else he would a) die/go insane (don’t all men think that anyway?) or b) lose the kingdom.
--Two started out with a girl looking out the window as the rain fell outside, she was contemplating life.
--Four had vampires or a vampire version.
--And then there were the two that used the exact same phrases “Gods! That was so annoying” (plural form of God to indicate more than one) and the term “Instinct.”
Perhaps the plot was different from everything else out there, maybe a new twist on an old idea, but the openings sure didn’t leave me to believe so. Very clichéd, in my humble opinion.
We have to make ourselves different. We have to stand out, rise above the rest. Make sure our ideas are different, or at least take an old idea and give it an incredible spin.
Any other clichéd plot lines or beginnings you’ve seen that I’ve missed. Do you agree with me or disagree? I’d love to hear from you. (I love comments and a great discussion).
(The videos below are just for fun. I'm not really dissing my romance writer pals. I love romance).