One of my favorite meals on planet earth (or any other planet I’ve been to) is a great filet mignon with mushrooms and red wine reduction. What is better? What is a more cliche romantic dinner? There is a reason it’s a cliche. Because it is amazing and loved by millions.
I want to pose the unpopular argument that tropes/cliches in writing can fall under the same umbrella. There’s a reason they are popular. Because people can relate to them or because it speaks to the humanity in us all.
First of all, even though this is often sited in this manner, the word ALL is unfair. Look at the piggies in Orson Scott Card’s Speaker for the Dead.
However, this speaks to our wonder and amazement as people looking into the stars. What kid hasn’t laid on the grass looking up wondering what else is out in that deep dark chasm called outer space?
How boring would a story about some backwoods, doesn’t-know-what-fire-is-yet species of extraterrestrials be? That depends. Are you a great writer?
Either of these alien types are free to be written about. There’s a reason many authors write about the highly intelligent. We want to believe that someone out there holds the key to our immediate technological advancement. iPhone 25, anyone?
Well, why not?? What guy is reading a scifi novel about conquering some far away world while wishing that they all looked like amoebas with soccer balls for hands? No one! We want to believe that if we find something out there they are enough like us to procreate or at least have a cup of Starbucks with! (There’s been at least four Starbucks on every planet I’ve visited)
Alright, here’s where the pastor in me comes out. The reason we all like to read about “the chosen one” is because deep down inside of each of us there is a God-instilled desire to be saved out of chaos and be restored into order.
This story works in books like Dune, Ender’s Game, The Matrix, Harry Potter, LOTR, Star Wars (must I go on?) because on some level it speaks to us all. The key is learning to be creative and move past all the stories that have already been told and make it your own.
From Independence Day to Home, stories of alien invasions are a dime a dozen. For so many readers, this is attractive because I believe it speaks to one of our greatest fears. We have built the world around us to suit our needs and play to our desires. What if some other race comes and takes over? What if they are unkind. What if they move us all to Australia???
This is a beautiful opportunity to show the human race coming together to fight for the common good. There is a way to do it uniquely. I feel as if all I ever do is refer to Orson Scott Card, but I love him. In Ender’s Game, (SPOILER ALERT) Ender is fighting against (unbeknownst to him) a species of aliens that once invaded earth only to find it occupied and moved on. Humanity was scared and believed that the buggers were out to destroy them. After 50 years of peace and no sign of aliens, we sent a fleet out to destroy the would-be invaders that actually had no plans to return.
There’s gold there. Find your gold. What is your story? If you believe that one guy can almost single handedly ward off an entire species that is armed to the fangs with weaponry I’ve never dreamed of, then sell me on it! That’s you’re job.
5) The world as we know it has ended and only a teenage girl can fix everything!
This is tough for me to try to argue. Maybe, just maybe this one should be thrown out and stranded in a deserted solar system somewhere (I know just the place about 300 A.U.s past Cosmos Redshift 7).
I kid, I kid! Can this one still be done? I believe so. Divergent and Hunger Games may have beaten it to death. Revolution even took a stab at it. But, I believe the real problem with this storyline lies in the reader. It is difficult for the average reader to believe that a “little girl” could really save the planet. We have been so trained to believe that it has to be Arnold Schwarzenegger or Bruce Willis that we ignore the J-Laws of the world.
Here’s your challenge, writer! Make us believe! I believed that Katniss could do it. I believed that Triss could do it too! Who is your hero? I’m rooting for an infant to take the next spotlight.
Remember, you don’t have to reinvent the wheel to change someone’s life with your writing. An authors job is to create something amazing that will inspire and entertain. There are no real rules, just giant walls separating the north from wildling territory. Figure out how to breach that wall in a creative and imaginative way.
Winter is coming.