18 September 2018

Avoid Cliche

We are starting to work on the next issue of Electric Spec--which means reading slush. Last time, I said stories should grab editors. This time, I'm saying stories should surprise editors. I didn't entitle this 'Surprise Me' because authors do need to lay the groundwork for their story endings. The end of the story should be the perfect complement to the beginning of the story. That being said, we see a lot of the same type of story endings...

Avoid these story cliches:

  • the mysterious protagonist is actually an alien, robot, AI, elf, ghost, monster, insert_your_favorite_creature_here
    and closely related: the seemingly normal protagonist is actually an evil murderer/torturer
  • the mysterious seemingly-not-human protagonist is actually a human
    and the closely-related: mysterious planet is actually Earth
  • nonhumans act exactly the same as humans.
  • the protagonist discovers he/she/it is the special chosen one
  • brave knight saving the damsel in distress and/or killing the dragon/beast
  • the powerful magic-object/wizard/AI/etc. saves the day
  • scientists/science are/is evil
I'm sure you can come up with some yourself.
Subverting cliches, on the other hand, can work great...

Good luck avoiding cliches!

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