Need some writing help
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20-10-2013, 05:25 PM
Need some writing help
Hello.

When is an idea an archetype and when is it a cliche?
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21-10-2013, 12:17 AM
RE: Need some writing help
(20-10-2013 05:25 PM)The_Thinking_Theist Wrote:  Hello.

When is an idea an archetype and when is it a cliche?

Archetypes are just standard character types that show up in most stories. Some examples might be hero, wise old man, warrior, sidekick, etc. These archetypal figures make it easier for the reader to understand your characters and can help with your character development.

Your story becomes cliche when it it too formulaic, and there is nothing interesting or unique to your character and plot. The hero-coming-of-age story has been told numerous times, and typically the hero must struggle with temptation from the dark side:
--Jesus's temptation by the devil
--Spencer's "The Fairie Queene", middle English poem where the hero tests his moral fiber by going into the cave of despair
--The tests and temptation of Sir Gawain, a Knight in King Arthur's round table
--Frodo's temptation by the one ring in Lord of the Rings
--Luke and Anacon's struggles with temptation by the dark side in Star Wars


This kind of coming of age hero character is used so often, that if you use this archetypal character and rely only on the typical character traits as a critical part of your story, you risk coming across as cliche. We wouldn't call the above list of fictional stories cliche because there is enough originality to the stories that this very common character type does not distract from the story. If your reader can easily tell how the story ends before you've told it because your characters are so predictable, you've reached the point of your archetypal characters becoming cliche.
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21-10-2013, 03:49 PM
RE: Need some writing help
(21-10-2013 12:17 AM)BryanS Wrote:  
(20-10-2013 05:25 PM)The_Thinking_Theist Wrote:  Hello.

When is an idea an archetype and when is it a cliche?

Archetypes are just standard character types that show up in most stories. Some examples might be hero, wise old man, warrior, sidekick, etc. These archetypal figures make it easier for the reader to understand your characters and can help with your character development.

Your story becomes cliche when it it too formulaic, and there is nothing interesting or unique to your character and plot. The hero-coming-of-age story has been told numerous times, and typically the hero must struggle with temptation from the dark side:
--Jesus's temptation by the devil
--Spencer's "The Fairie Queene", middle English poem where the hero tests his moral fiber by going into the cave of despair
--The tests and temptation of Sir Gawain, a Knight in King Arthur's round table
--Frodo's temptation by the one ring in Lord of the Rings
--Luke and Anacon's struggles with temptation by the dark side in Star Wars


This kind of coming of age hero character is used so often, that if you use this archetypal character and rely only on the typical character traits as a critical part of your story, you risk coming across as cliche. We wouldn't call the above list of fictional stories cliche because there is enough originality to the stories that this very common character type does not distract from the story. If your reader can easily tell how the story ends before you've told it because your characters are so predictable, you've reached the point of your archetypal characters becoming cliche.

Thanks (wo)man!

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