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The Dreaded Plot Cliché

With particular thanks to my friend, ghostposts, who posted the first of these links on her LJ page, I'd like to draw your attention to the following lists, from over at Strange Horizons.  They contain details of, shall we say, somewhat overemployed plotlines, which they'd prefer not to see in submissions.

Frankly, after reading through them both I feel violated.  It's like they raided my ideas folder and listed every plot I ever came up with
 However, in the interest of sharing (and to save anyone ever needing to read one of my stories), I'm posting the links here.

Strange Horizons:
Horror stories we've seen too often

Strange Horizons:  Stories we've seen too often

My only consolation is that my current WIP - about a housesitter, who goes up the creaky staircase to investigate strange growling noises coming from the attic during a dark, and stormy Hallows' Eve, armed only with a candle - doesn't get mentioned. 

How about you?  Are there any stories on your collection that you won't be submitting to Strange Horizons after all?

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Jul. 1st, 2009 07:00 pm (UTC)
I've always had a bit of an issue with STRANGE HORIZONS' "stuff we've seen too often" list. For every one of those plots, there's a brilliant classic that scared the bejesus out of me and a hack job that deserves to be a Sci Fi Original Movie. There are no original plots anymore; Aristotle outlined them all. Hell, THE SHINING is just a haunted house, right? ALIEN is about a critter laying an egg inside a human? PSYCHO is an abused child who became a serial killer?

Discounting these plots because they're too common rejects the idea that someone can find a new and interesting twist on it, that character-driven fiction can make the old new again. It's striving for something DIFFERENT instead of something well-written and engaging for the reader. The challenge is not to reject all the tropes of the genre, but to accept them and then twist them into something new.

There's a bit of literary snobbery to the idea that a new writer can't possibly take an old concept and run with it, that it solely belongs to the classics of yesterdyear. Peter Benchley screwed us all on sharks, true enough. But someday someone might find a way to make sharks scarier than JAWS. That would take someone more talented than me, but I would never say it's impossible.

But then, I have a lovely collection of rejection letters from STRANGE HORIZONS, so I should probably shut up.
Jul. 1st, 2009 07:03 pm (UTC)
Ooh, how about Sharks that can get you on land? No, wait, I think they did that in a sci-fi movie :(

I know what you mean. It's like Peadar says. It all comes down to the way you tell 'em. ;)
Jul. 2nd, 2009 07:01 pm (UTC)
Amen, Sistah.

Of course there goes my 1-800-SOMETHING-CUTE story. LOL

Things What I Wrote and Other Stuff

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there

No longer in print but there are still some copies floating around out there



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