When is it cliche and when is it classic?

Its been some times since I wrote anything regarding what I’ve been working on so I thought it should be time for an update. The New Year has come and gone and I’ve had tons of things to do, but one project I have not taken my hands off of is the notion of writing a novel. I have had the idea for a massive project, a fantasy novel, for some time and now I’m getting into it finally. The trouble is this…

I’m not sure the concept is any good.

I read a website recently that asked you questions regarding your concept for a novel. It said that due to the volume of cliche material being produced, if you fall into any of the categories listed in the survey, you should abandon your novel at once because you’re relying on cliches. While I think that is harsh, and while I don’t believe everything I read on the internet, the concept has occurred to me that perhaps I am relying on cliches. Yet one of the major things I’ve been looking at with this book is following the hero’s journey as laid out in “The Hero With A Thousand Faces” by Joseph Campbell. That is to say, I’m looking to write something that plays with epic story, heroic struggles, and a fantasy world. Some of the characters, however, do seem to be running along cliche lines and need to be revitalized but the question still stands: when it is a mythic journey? When did we begin to say ‘this has been done, so you shouldn’t do it again’? The fact is, everything has been done in one way or another a thousand times before. So who in the world says that it’s bad provided its got a fresh direction?

Regardless of how little one should pay attention to a lot of things you read on the internet (bloggers, I’m sorry to say its true, the internet is a place full of fun people and then there are the ones who are just wackyland), this does bring up some issues I need to consider about my character development in this book. Especially for the main character. It makes me want to bang my head against the wall. Yet I especially want to write to the arrogant pricks who wrote this website and ask where they get off telling anyone to ‘abandon their writing’ should it fall into cliches. How about work on making it better? Improve it? Evolve?

Some people don’t know what improvement looks like if it jumped up and bit them in the ass. Some people only want to be naysayers. And what was it a subway poster said recently? Naysayers don’t do much except shake their heads and say nay, what do they accomplish if anything? In the terms of the hero’s journey, they would be considered the archtype of the Threshold Guardian, holding back the hero of the story from the next level of the adventure unless a solution or resolution can be reached. The Threshold Guardian is our proud little naysayer. Well I don’t say nay. I say I work smarter and harder to make my characters better.

Hrm, seems I worked out the answer to my question. In the end, it doesn’t matter if someone says ‘abandon hope, all ye who enter here’. It just motivates me to improve things. In the end, it might not be the best thing I ever write… but it will get done.

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