When you expect to love being bored

Michelle Davidson ArgyleMICHELLE DAVIDSON ARGYLE lives and writes in Utah, surrounded by the Rocky Mountains. She graduated from Utah Valley University with a Bachelor’s Degree in English/Creative Writing in 2002. Her novels are published by Rhemalda Publishing. You can find Michelle on her author site: michelledavidsonargyle.com.

 

Something I try to stay away from as an author are cliches. You know, those phrases and plot “twists” and character traits that have all been done before? So much that everyone can recognize them in an instant. Cliches have a bad rap, or so it seems, but when you start looking at specific genres like romance and fantasy, cliches thrive – in a good way.

For instance, romance isn’t usually considered romance unless there is a happy ending (oftentimes with the couple getting together or at least resolving everything). You would think that readers might get bored with this. If you know it is always going to end happily, why read it at all?

As a reader who loves realism and bittersweet, often tragic endings, I am not a huge fan of romance. Because of this, I don’t write romance. The interesting thing is that some of my books are considered romance, or at least assumed to be by many readers before they pick them up. I am not exactly sure why because the descriptions and covers don’t seem to push that genre, but who knows. Then the readers get to the end and oftentimes get upset because, well, I did not hand them the romance cliche they expected and wanted.

Boring is comfortable. Many readers read to escape, and in their escape, they want to be comfortable. They don’t want to think and ponder and dig for meaning. They don’t want realism. And they don’t want unhappy endings. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this. I have to admit that sometimes I read for the same reasons. I may not prefer happy endings 100% of the time, but I do enjoy them, and sometimes that’s just what I need in my more-than-real life.

But more often than not, I am left unsatisfied and bored with genre cliches, especially in my own writing. I want to break them because, for me, that is more exciting. I am happy there is all kinds of fiction out there for all kinds of readers. I hope to reach the group who wants to dig deeper and smile when I surprise them, and I am constantly searching for authors who do the same.

6 thoughts on “When you expect to love being bored

  1. There seem to be so many cases of books being seen as something they aren’t, covers or summaries being deceptive or even sometimes a review might leave out a point that would help the reader know what the book is like. Of course review-wise it’s difficult to refer to everything in case spoilers get included. So it’s interesting that you say your books don’t push romance at all but that people think it is romance. Maybe a subplot or dialogue gets them thinking?

    Boring and sameness is important when you’ve read heavy stuff and want a rest, it’s good that there’s so much variety to choose from and that clichéd books are becoming more acceptable (from what I’ve surmised!) But breaking the mould can lead to more interest overall, and because of clichés a new but regular plot could almost be controversial.

    1. Cherie, thank you for your comment! Yes, marketing can really push a certain element in a book (like subplots), while leaving out the bigger things. I absolutely love that there is a variety to choose from these days. And what’s funny is that I just finished my most recent novel, and it has a pretty cliched ending. But it definitely works for the story, so I’m going to leave it for now. 🙂

  2. Readers bring their own expectations to books, and we can’t meet them all. The best we can do is try to be true to the story we’re telling, and hoping that the “rightness” of it is satisfying enough, even for those readers who might wish that things happened differently.

    1. Jenn, thanks for stopping by. And yes, you are absolutely right. Sometimes the ending is not satisfying enough for some readers, but I think I only have two books in which that happens frequently. The kind where readers either really, really hate it or really, really love it. They are my favorite books. 🙂

  3. “Bored” is a weird word. It seems so straight-forward. It seems like a word we all understand and that we can all apply without confusion. I think we tend to forget, though, that being bored — just as being happy, being sad, or being anything else — is a state of being and, as such, is partly emotional and certainly of-the-moment.

    What that means is that what is boring varies so widely from one person to another that it’s difficult to get a handle on — and impossible to predict.

    When you say, “Boring is comfortable,” I know what you mean and I resonate with that pretty strongly. I think, though, that people like you and I need to be aware that the sentiment can be flipped around to read, “Comfortable is boring.” More descriptively, “Things that are simply comfortable, I find to be boring.”

    In other words, people who drift toward cliche-rich genre books may acknowledge that those books are comfortable, but (clearly) they aren’t going to say they’re boring. To them, the cliches part of the hook that draws them in and pulls them along. The material may be predictable and comfortable, but it’s not boring. Take away the cliches and you’re left with no hook and no propulsion. You’re left with two people sitting at a cafe drinking coffee and saying nothing while they talk expansively.

    Which might, for some of us, be a far more interesting book, but for those readers might well be boring.

    All that to say, “boring,” is a slippery concept.

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