Recently my husband and I rented a movie that started in the morning with the characters on the way to work with the weather report playing in the background. Right away my husband was upset. “How many movies have to start this way!” He groused.
Well, okay, it is a bit of a cliche. But it’s such a great way to establish not just the weather but also place, the time of year, the time of day, that it was just an ordinary day in the life of….. You know, that’s probably how it became a cliche.
The movie contained no surprises whatsoever, which according to my spouse you could tell from that start. But it didn’t keep us from watching or enjoying it. It was still fun.
And it got me to thinking, yet again, on cliches. I think as writers, we need to be aware of them, which I admit, I sometimes depend on my better half for. But if we know that some writer (or apparently, many writers) used an ordinary weather report to jump start us into the story’s setting, we can start thinking about other ways to do that. And thus better our own story’s beginnings.
Another cliche that I have noticed,is that at the end of S/F adventures, the characters always seem to be flying off somewhere else–continuing their hero’s journeys. You know, this is the place where in Star Trek, Next Gen, Picard sits back in his chair and says “Make is so, Number One.” And you see the ship go speeding off.
I don’t think cliches like this are necessarily a bad thing. Readers (or watchers) feel a bit of satisfaction in the thought that maybe they can anticipate something new to look forward to. The saga continues.
So I guess it goes without saying that I like it when a book series has a sort of signature sign-off. Although, it does seem like a technique that modern writers have thrown by the wayside.
We can learn so much from cliches if we just take the time to consider them. Me, I’m still thinking about that weather report.