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Is Your Book's Plot Cliché? | BookDaily #AuthorTips

I swore I’d never do it. And yet I did. That’s why I don’t swear anything anymore. It tends to get all over my face. But before I begin moaning and groaning over my writing sins and wringing my hands and confessing—which I will do—let me tell you this may and hopefully will ease your own writing conscience. When I was first published I’d heard rumbling complaints throughout the romance writing community about the use or worse overuse of a plot ruse called the “Secret Baby or Secret Child” plot twist in novels.

A few in this industry snootily looked down their noses claiming that not only was it indication of a hack writer and non-original it could threaten the very acceptance of your manuscript by those all-important editors and agents. This no doubt terrified me and I swore never to do it. Good Lord never let it be said I was a hack! I was too good to ever use such a weak tool as the secret baby!

But then my editor—by no means a hack herself—suggested I use a pregnancy to end a series. As I was desperate to end the romance series I did so and thought it worked out perfectly since no one outside the two main characters expected it and I left it as a cliffhanger of sorts though not quite so breathtaking as the first two books in the series. To tell you the truth I never even realized it was a form of the secret baby so I never worried over it.

Then came The Brede Chronicles. There was nothing in any of my plans for any type of secret baby or marriage type union or basically anything. I merely wrote as I always do; hard and heavy and fast and I’m not talking seductive scenes except one. I wrote it then forgot about it sort of like one of the main characters did. Completely and entirely forgot it. And then suddenly, there it was: the big matzo ball of the romance world. Here’s how it came about:

My hero had escaped with his life and his lover, freed by the girl who loved him and sacrificed herself for him to do it. Later he and his lover got into a discussion of their past experiences with that girl—well, it was his woman who was discussing her in dialogue as part of a back story reminder and catch-up and a surprise insight by the hero. There I was typing happily away when something truly overused occurred: the awful, soon to be (I hope) forgotten phrase “the AHA! Moment”! I’d just typed the last dialogue lines of “What do you care? It was five years ago!”

AHA! It suddenly all fell into place like the brick that always sits over my head when I write. I didn’t give a damn about being called a hack or a cliché or an idiot for that matter. It all fit. It made sense and it gave a reason for my hero and heroine to reunite and continue on with their story! It even created more word count! Need I say more?

As I sit here now, wiping the goo off my face, I can tell you sometimes you just gotta’ go with it. Especially if you’re like me and have perfected the science of avoiding clichés by using every other thing you can think of in place of them. I no longer sweat about secret babies or pregnancies or any other lame excuse of a plot point because I’ve already done it. I’m no secret baby virgin like Jane on TV anymore. I’ve been there, done it and you know what? I’m glad I did it. And I’m glad my characters did it too. It even set up the next book!

However, as a piece of advice if you’re a novice novelist, you do have to learn the rules and clichés and how they work or don’t before you can break them or make them. And for Cripes’ sake don’t go around saying “Hey, Barrington said I could!” and make me the “bad” chick writer. I waited out of fear for a long time (let’s see, uh six novels ago) before it all coagulated in my brain which made it work I hope. At some point it will all happen for you too and then you can write a sardonic guest post just like this yourself!

Which cliches are you trying to stay away from in your writing? Share your thoughts in the comments!


🐦CLICK TO TWEET🐦 #Authortip from @BookDailycom: Is Your Book's Plot Cliché? by @PIBARRINGTON #amwriting #authorchat

🐦CLICK TO TWEET🐦 #Authortip from @BookDailycom: Dear #Authors, Your Plot Twist Is Overused by @PIBARRINGTON #amwriting #authorchat


About the Author:
P.I. Barrington writes futuristic crime thrillers, sci fi, short horror-ish stories, and paranormal crime thrillers with just a hint of romance. It’s not your typical love story…

You can connect with her on Twitter.


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