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December 22, 2012
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Why so cliche-obsessed?

:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Why would you ever, ever put originality first on your checklist of Things to Maek Good Story With?

I know I've asked this before, but honest to god(s) it still does not make sense to me, and last time all the responses I got were from people who don't put originality first.

So. If originality is the first concern for you when writing a story, please answer.
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:iconperibyss:
Peribyss Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
This argument has been made a dozen and a half thousand times, but I'll make it anyway.

When broken down, absolutely nothing is original. We've all been borrowing the same concepts from the same people for thousands of years. While it isn't necessarily impossible to be original, originality doesn't lie in the base components. The idea that a story centralizes around a person or small group of people isn't very original, is it? Why can't it be an unnamed mob, or a country? Just all art has shapes, lines, and colors, all literature has certain things that are always the same.

The problem, I think, is an issue of articulation. The problem isn't the presence of cliche, but the absence of a substantial amount of distinguishable traits. Whereas it's impossible to have nothing that someone else has done before, it's entirely possible to have something that is unique to that particular piece. These distinguishing factors aren't singular factors by themselves, but a combination of factors. Literature is ideas, themes, presentation, articulation and diction, symbolism, imagery, details, and many other things. The issue is having too many of those things that are the same.

Moreover, it's also a problem of quality. In recent years, some story telling elements and topics have been used not only far too much but also very poorly. It is the association with poor writing that puts people off and makes people not want to read, even if in reality it is a very good read.

Lastly, the idea that all things are derivative is a terrible, atrocious, and fallacy ridden counter point to the claim that certain cliches can be let up. The amount of things to write about in fiction are innumerable, inestimable, and unfathomable. It is virtually impossible to count the things you could write about. To pick the same particular thing out of septillions of topics is ludicrous, let alone the amount of topics that are actually available in fiction, as septillions is a drop in the ocean, I'd say. Fiction can encompass the entire imagination. Anything that can be come up with can be written, if someone can only come up with it. Someone can make up an entirely new animal/human/spirit/thing to use in fiction. To even present these ceaselessly abused ideas in the exact same ceaselessly abused fashions using even similar word choice is so absurd that the word absurd is intimidated to fill the role that requires such a strong word.

That is how I feel about cliches. To answer the question, no, I don't take originality that much into account when writing, but I do take into account the absence of over use, not so much originality, because originality is hard in a world where fiction has existed for thousands of years.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I think the only requirement for that unique quality is voice. Thoughts?
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:iconperibyss:
Peribyss Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Very simply, I disagree.

I think that sometimes the fundamental issue with a story is its plot construction. I'm not of the school of thought that absolutely any idea can work if you write it well enough. Plot construction is a part of writing, and the way that you describe it won't always work.

In the instance of abused themes, ideas, or plot elements, I don't think voice will help at all.

I can't say you're wrong though. Voice certainly helps distinguish oneself, but I don't agree that it can fix a poorly constructed plot with minimal effort.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
my usual counter to that is if the voice is lacking, nobody will read far enough to see the amazing plot: it's just too textbooky. I hear this isn't wholly true, though I have no personal experience of it.

although I do think it's very unlikely to find a book with a great voice and a shitty plot just because the process of developing one's voice forces some understanding of the other stuff.
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:iconperibyss:
Peribyss Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
You're right, you typically won't find someone with an amazing voice and a shitty plot because voice implies some understanding of plot construction as well. My point is that your problem can lie in your plot and not how you present it.

And in the case of cliches, very few things can help when you use excessively abused plot elements that people have read far too often than they'd like to.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Yeah, that is true.

I think I might just be good at avoiding books with all the abuse of plot elements.
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:iconblithemisnomer:
BlitheMisnomer Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I write to tell, simple as that. Yes, I want fame and fortune, but best of all I want the fame, but only because becoming famous supports the idea that the message in the stories I tell is getting out there. Originality, I believe, is the magic REAL writers add to every story they write and tell. As humans, I believe cliche portrayal of certain things is inevitable. It is these cliche matters that touch and bind the most common understanding and emotional abilities of majority of people. It's human nature. This is what makes those pop books and movies that has a sh*t-ass excuse for a plot sell...

This is where originality and being a REAL writer comes in. I agree with SuperSachiko, real writers have what it takes to make the usual and normal turn into strange, interesting and wonderful. How many love stories, tragic stories, fantasy stories, and stories about misunderstood creatures have been written and recognized out there? Hundreds? Thousands? More? But how many of them could you say contains originality? Every story is pulled out of a certain emotion and manipulates certain key elements found in human nature. Originality is found in the way of telling, writing, illustrating, or to put it simply, in the execution. As for those popular writers who write undeniably cliche and boring crap? I believe they are either called daydreamers with premature imagination, or businessmen.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
How exactly is a real writer different from a facsimile of one? I mean last time I checked, popular authors spent a lot more time actually writing and revising than the average high schooler who's just getting some thoughts out of their head. Seems kind of backwards.
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:iconblithemisnomer:
BlitheMisnomer Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Technical writing and revising does not involve originality. The argument was about originality, yes? True, re-writing and revising is part of the final execution, it's a part of the process, of course. But revisions for such writers often (although, thankfully not all) are limited to "technical" revisions. Originality,such as voices and plot execution are very limited. I know you can name a number of books out there selling out of popularity, with good grammar, book covers and basic technical requirements for a book to be decent and pleasing enough to be sold in the market with nothing much to stand for in terms of originality.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
actually, no. would you care to mention some examples? :)
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:iconblithemisnomer:
BlitheMisnomer Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Need I care to cite them? I do not want to offend any supporters of certain writers. Mention just one book and the fans would start gnashing their teeth as if one was mocking all of their works. And if you are widely read, I bet you know just what I mean starting from the examples down to critiquing ^^; I rather not get flamed or offend anyone in an open forum ^_^
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
you are still coming off as someone who dislikes popular authors without having an idea of their process, so yeah, I would prefer an example because right now I can't see where you're coming from. nothing wrong with having an opinion as long as you've thought it out :aww:
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:iconblithemisnomer:
BlitheMisnomer Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Seriously, dear. No point prolonging this discussion. I have stated my point, you may or may not disagree with me. And I did say (enclosed in a parenthesis) that fortunately not all popular authors lack originality. I do not mean to mislead you but I was referring to the cliche pop culture taking over the book store shelves, and not the whole bunch of popular authors. Popularity is a part of [almost] every writers dream. I do not see anything wrong with that. I did say in my earlier post that I do want to be famous, too. So no, I don't dislike every popular author out there. We were talking about 'originality' and the cliche, remember? And sadly, the overload of cliche is something very visible in today's pop genres. It "feels" like everybody just wants to talk and write about the same thing to get into the scene.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 3, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Is there something wrong with variations on a trend? I don't see why people have to have original plots/stories/characters when they can have an original voice instead.
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(1 Reply)
:iconxd6:
XD6 Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I think most people dont live interesting enough lives, and this leads to boring plots and themes in their work.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I dunno, most writers lead pretty boring lives. I think the trick is being able to make your life sound interesting.
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:iconxd6:
XD6 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Most writers aren't exceptional. That's a fact.

The best writers think outside the box, and their creations follow the same eccentric theme.

If you have to try to sound a certain way your writing will suffer; that's the issue with most creative literature works. They try too hard for twist their style and it ends up being a bad reproduction of earlier works.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I don't know if eccentricity is necessarily associated with being a great writer. I love nonfiction and journalistic style writing, and you could argue that those require even more grounding in reality. As for fiction, I do admittedly read a lot of speculative stuff, but I've read well written things with a more mundane setting. Relationship oriented fiction isn't everyone's thing, but it can also be well done.

I think trying too hard happens to pretty much anyone who isn't confident they have anything else to bring to the table, it's a shame.
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:iconxd6:
XD6 Featured By Owner Jan 2, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Confidence matters.
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
If it isn't original in any way, why write it?
I mean, then you don't need to write it anymore because the story already exists and you writing it again doesn't add anything.
If you aren't concerned about originality when writing a story, aren't the only purposes making money and getting admiration/fame? And doesn't make you as a writer a bit shallow and well... dirty?
I mean I would feel dirty if I made something that wasn't original at all, but just made it for the money and the fame it might bring me. :/
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:iconthebrassglass:
TheBrassGlass Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional General Artist
Why do you write? Do you write to be original, or do you write to tell a story?

I'd feel dirty, too, if I were just writing for fame and fortune. :)
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is a difficult one, as I am trying to answer it as honestly as possible (not regarding if it works in favour or against my point).

I actually suppose neither. I think these are the reasons I write:
- I like writing / I like (shaping) language
- Stories pop up in my head that I think are interesting and would like to share with others (as I would like to read them if I hadn't been the one thinking them up).
- It's a way of imaging the world from another person's eyes, explore possible reasons and motives for certain behaviours in detail. It's also a way of executing/saying things that would never be possible or 'okay' in the real world.
Though, I do believe that I would never write down a story that I wouldn't believe to be original, and the reason why, in its primary form would be very simple: I just wouldn't be able to as I would be too bored by it to be able to focus.
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:iconthebrassglass:
TheBrassGlass Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional General Artist
Those seem like good, honest reasons for writing. How do you define "original"? -- so I know we can both be on the same page to talk about it. I might be thinking something different from what you mean when you say "original". XD
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Pfah, difficult again. I'm not that good at defining words... as in, most of the time to myself I perfectly understand the concept of them, but I just cant... translate it into words.

But well, in this context I would say something along the lines of 'something that is somehow at some point refreshing and new' paired with 'something that goes against people's expectations at some point' with a lot of 'something that doesn't make people feel like they've read/seen it before'.
Like there can still be elements of things that have been done plenty of times, but the combination of them has to be new, or at least one crucial thing has to be altered.
Of course not even that might be fully possible, but you at least have to try, in my opinion.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Okay, I'm just gonna repeat this as it seems to get missed a lot.

"Why would you ever, ever put originality first?"

First. Not never.

And why can't writing be a career for some people? Should I feel ashamed of wanting to get paid for my time so I can do whatever I want otherwise?
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, why not is my question?

And wanting to get paid is alright if it's your career, or even if it isn't, and I can understand sometimes that REQUIRES compromises, but like with any creative profession:
I believe that you should be in it for the creativity, for making something that is somehow special, that adds something to the world, in the first place. If you're in it for the money in the first place, then there's no point in pursuing a creative career, and then I think you are kind of disgusting. (Sorry, I would be abandoning my believes if I went for a kinder word in this case.)
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional Writer
Hi.  I get paid to write.  So I'm disgusting?
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
No, but you have poor reading skills, because that is not what I said. Twice.
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Writer
That is absolutely how it came across. I write professionally and there is nothing wrong with taking on a job to pay the bills.
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
"If you're in it for the money in the first place, then there's no point in pursuing a creative career,"
Please take a look at the bold words, those are very important.

Of course you need to get paid when you write for a living, writers aren't excused from bills.
But, it seems to me that for paying the bills any other job would do too (there are even better ones with a bigger and more secure paycheck), so that the reason why take pick writing of all jobs, should have to be one other than that.

That reason, in my opinion should be that you like to think up stories and have decent talent for writing them (if you are a writer of fiction that is). Not trying to be original at all here would result in recycling other people's works, and that would mean, in my eyes, that you lack either in the thinking up stories department or the writingtalent department.
At that point, in my eyes, it seems that you aren't really in it for the writing anymore, but just for the money and the fame. And that's what I think is wrong.

I can still however, understand that sometimes you just don't have the freedom (not enough time, your most original ideas won't sell and bills are stacking up), there is a need to make something a bit more... well less great. That's okay, but it shouldn't be the norm.
Do you get it now?
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:iconpinkymccoversong:
PinkyMcCoversong Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Professional Writer
Why is it wrong to do something that you're good at for money? If someone gave me a freelance job to do that wasn't even remotely interesting to me but that I was capable of writing...hell yes I'd do it.

I get what you're saying, but it makes you sound like a total asshat. No, writers aren't excused from bills. But who are you to say, "well, you should only write for a living if you can make that living having another job and/or only writing things you're passionate about." Would you say that to a chef? "Well, you aren't at a 5 star restaurant yet so maybe you should just cook for fun and work at the grocery store to pay the bills."
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(1 Reply)
:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Because the people who do it seem to get so caught up in worrying about it that they neglect the rest of the story, if they even get around to writing it.

I think that you need to talk to more people who work as creative professionals. It seems your opinion is that anyone who gets paid for art is no longer adding any creativity to their work, and that is incredibly unfair to a lot of awesome people who love art so much it's the only thing they want to do full time.
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Well, yes when you want to be absolutely original finishing up the project does become harder to finish (decently). Though, that's why I think that when it does work out, such projects are more admirable.

And, well it seems you are failing to understand what I am saying. Let's try again:
I think it is stupid when you think like this (making it a bit over the top here to perhaps make it clearer): "I am going to be a writer/artist JUST to make money, if I just keep on reclying that which is popular, then I'll be rich for sure! I am not at all concerned with whether my stuff is not original, thinking things up yourself when you chose a profession where you are supposed to creative is just a waste of time if I can make Super Twilight!"
Though I think this is perfectly okay: "I like writing/drawing and I have a drive to do this all day long. In the first place I like to do this because I have all this ideas in my head that I feel the need for to put into this world. In the first place I'd like to work out the ideas that I really believe to be great, refreshing and meaningful. However, as I spend all my time on drawing/writing I also do need to get paid for this, so that means I also have to compromise: I have to get things done and sometimes these things need to be a tad less original than I'd want them to be because that makes them easier to market. Though if I had full creative freedom at all time, I would definitely work on [creative and original idea x]"

I really hope you get what I mean now, because otherwise it might just be that we end up thinking badly of each other (possibly) based on a misunderstanding.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Could you name one project like that?

I'm confused because I thought you were talking about real people, but you're talking about some theoretical person who is literally only doing it for the money even though art is incredibly hard to break into as compared to a far more lucrative profession like investment banking. Sure, I wouldn't be thrilled with someone who decided to be that way about art, but nobody does that.
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:iconforeverteatime:
ForeverTeaTime Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
What is it, do you have a need to turn anything I say into something stupid and unrealistic? It seems you must have a talent for misunderstanding people. Gee.

I mean, when I try to explain it in reasonable terms and words, you don't seem to get the concept of what I mean at all. Then when I exaggerate it, and say it's an exaggeration, you do seem to start to grasp the concept but you fail to smooth it out and put it into perspective again.

Nevertheless, aside from misunderstanding, it does start to seem we agree at some point.
I do believe people exist who put money (and fame) as their first goal when writing something (here we still disagree). And now what I've been trying to say on top of that is: Why on earth if you just/primarily want that, become a writer? There are far safer jobs to be doing if it's just about getting a (big) paycheck! (And that's where I think we do agree.)
And (dangerous move here, trying to make my full point again), I think not trying to pursue at least some degree of originality to your work, is a sign of not really caring about the actual writing part but just craving the money and fave.

(If you want, I can give you some examples of people that I think took the easy way out on the writing to get to the part where they got lots of moneys and fame?)


A project that I think did great on originality is the movie Memento.
The movie is in reverse chronology: They start with the last chronological scene and when it ends they go one back, etc.
As far as I know it was about the 5th movie made with that technique, and the first to be a mystery about a guy who's got a condition where he has a problem with his short-term memory ever since his wife was murdered (which works great with the reverse chronology, as just like him we get dropped into a situation without knowing what happened before).
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Jan 1, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm sorry, mind reading isn't one of my strong points.

I meant to say it was an absurd exaggeration to make—if you're going to pick an example that I have never, ever heard of, it's hard to bring it back into reality, similar to discussions I've occasionally had about making time travel plausible (it's just never going to be). I was asking if you had any examples of a person who was only doing it for the money and not for any sense of enjoyment since I don't know of any myself.

No conjecture, but with actual words from the person. And there is a huge gap between taking the 'easy way out' and only doing it for the money: there are times in people's lives when paying the bills and, well, eating has to come over their sense of integrity. If you've never been in the position of having to worry whether you'll have a roof over your head next month, judging people for "selling out" seems unreasonable.

I've taken a job—only for the money because the topic sure as hell wasn't interesting to me—in science, which is a field I love. Is this somehow different than the arts? Why?
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:iconwhiskyomega:
WhiskyOmega Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
I've never cared about what's popular when I'm creating something, writing or otherwise, I do what I like and I do it my own way. If people don't like it, they don't have to look at it or read it. I don't publish anything to gain popularity, I do it because I want to.

Originality isn't easy for everyone, as alot has already been done, so coming up with good, original ideas or original twists on what's already been done isn't easy.
Take space and the future, for instance. Almost anything to do with them has been done to death, so what's a person to do then if their work is about those subjects?
It's not easy, but it can be done. ;)
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
'Rainbows End' is pretty original—and it does this by twisting existing concepts of religion, age, and even physical books. :O
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:iconsachi-pon:
Sachi-pon Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
why would you not put originality first? do you want to create a story that's similar to what people have read many times before? that's boring. there are so many writers out there. in order to be successful, something needs to distinguish you from the crowd. otherwise you're nothing special, just another writer writing the same things many other writers have already done. that's my fear with both being a writer and illustrator- i don't want to get lost in the crowd.

cliches are not totally bad- in fact, using them is good... as long as you use them and TWIST them. try to do SOMETHING unexpected with a cliche. so what i'm saying is, use familiar things in unfamiliar ways.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
It's even more boring to read something where the author didn't bother justifying the events or character relationships and barely included themes, personally. Also, voice. If it doesn't have good voice, I don't get in far enough to find out if it's original at all.

I like a good twist on a cliche, as well as some originality of concept, but I don't think it should be the chief concern until the story is written. This applies to visual art, too: if you can picture some of the purely conceptual stuff drawn by someone with no grasp of why line speed matters, that's what's in my head.
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Professional General Artist
I assume partly because most people don't really want to read work riddled with cliche and want the author to have an original take on something.  That said, people also enjoy what is familiar, and it's hard to be completely original.

I'm trying to remember what composer once said that we need new sounds.  John Cage, maybe?  Perhaps it was Glass.  Anyway, that guy kinda had a point.  After a while, what we know can start to sound used up and we reach more dead-ends.  So you go in search of those new sounds, either by borrowing outside the familiar repertoire, or by rethinking the form, or by creating something totally new.  That last one is really hard.  At most, you create a new instrument, add something to it that wasn't there before, or find a new way of playing it.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I also get a -5000 for conflating cliche and originality.

On the other hand, Stravinksy set off riots in Paris. I mean, I think part of it was the music itself? Maybe just the whole scandalousness.

Even new instruments tend to have familiar sounds. The most recent example I can think of is those chimes Tchaikovsky made big in Russian music (urgh, can't remember the proper name).
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Professional General Artist
:lol:

I'm pretty sure the riots are an exaggeration. At most, there was nearly a riot in the audience during the first performance. But interesting example, considering that Stravinsky was doing things with the music in "Rite of Spring" that were challenging for the time but less challenging now, and that the narrative was based on ancient pagan rituals.

And I dunno, electronics brought entirely new sounds and methods of composition to music. Early electronic music sounds pretty alien compared to most of what came before, though the sounds are quite familiar now.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 29, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Haha, I'd hope so, but it is Paris.

Oh, good point! I don't really think of those as instruments. But they're making noise in music, so they clearly are.
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Professional General Artist
Yeah, that's one reason why I don't think it's quite right to say that nothing's new/original. There would be no change in culture or technology if that was the case.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 30, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I think a better way to put it is nothing is completely and utterly original. Except maybe electronic sounds. :O
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:iconsaintartaud:
saintartaud Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Professional General Artist
I think that is a better way of putting it too.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Woo!
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:iconwolfos96:
wolfos96 Featured By Owner Dec 27, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
So you're trying to say that originality is stupid and we should copy others' ideas? Or am I horribly misinterpreting this post?

I mean no Negativity by this post.
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:iconneurotype:
neurotype Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Horribly misinterpreting, unfortunately.

All I'm saying is originality should not be the first concern while writing.
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