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.