Cliches are bad, the tool of a lazy writer so uninspired he doesn't bother to come up with an original way to express an idea. No matter that cliches are what they are because of their truth and accuracy, and no matter that in real life everyone uses cliches. According to the experts, characters in novels shouldn't use cliches unless it is for a specific purpose, such as that character has a quirk where she speaks in cliches. And God forbid, a writer shouldn't let a cliche sneak into description.
Then there are cliched characters. I was accused of this recently, although I guess accused is a harsh word. To rephrase, a reviewer said although my plot was engaging, my protagonist was a cliche. Specifically, the comment was that my female lead had the same cliched problems commonly seen among MEN in her profession (she is a prosecutor.) Right there I thought, well if the men in the profession frequently have these problems, it might be cliche for a male character to have the same, but the very fact that she's a woman changes the playing field. If most female characters of the same age and with the same occupation don't have these problems, wouldn't that make my character not cliche by the distinction of her being female?
For example, a workaholic husband/father who never has time for his kids while his wife stays home and does the cooking and cleaning may be cliche, but a workaholic wife/mother who never has time for the kids while her husband stays home and does the cooking and cleaning would seem not to be. The very fact that the roles are reversed would seem to take the concept out of the realm of the cliche.
Unfortunately, the reviewer did not get the emotional side of my character, and that could be why he saw the character as cliched. Perhaps if I had made him see the deeper layers of the character- which apparently I didn't, and I consider that a failing on my part- he would not have seen my girl as cliche.
Most of the readers who have commented to me on the novel have been women, and have liked my protagonist. They saw her softer side and seemed to believe why she did the things she did, whereas the reviewer did not. Maybe it's a male/female thing. Or maybe there are others out there who also didn't get/like my protagonist and kept it to themselves. Regarldess, I want EVERYONE to see my character as I see her, and as I intended to portray her, and if one person out there thinks she's a cliche, I need to work on that.
In real life, some people are cliches. The problem with writing about them is that they are not interesting people, and if we are going to invest our time reading, we want a novel about someone and something more captivating than real life. We also don't want to read the same character in different disguises in different books by different authors. While I don't believe I'm guilty of that, I hope in the second novel everyone sees my character on paper as she exists in my mind.
Causes Holli Castillo Supports
American Diabetes Association, American Breast Cancer Association, Lazarus House New Orleans