Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Clichés...With a Twist!

Yes, this is normally John J. Horn's week, but he has been very busy with school and work. So he and I are switching weeks. Look for him next Wednesday!

Now, I write historical-fiction. Therefore, to make my settings feel historical, I avoid 21st century clichés like the plague. Or something like that.

One reviewer on my upcoming release said this:

"From the Dark to the Dawn by Alicia A. Willis is an intriguing novel that follows a well-used premise. It avoids clichés and delivers crisp life-like characters. And it stands as a sparkling fresh take on Roman history."

I was very relieved! Because there is nothing more maddening to me than reading a historical-fiction novel and finding it full of modern phrases and clichés. "Hey, dude, your sword fighting is not up to par." Ugggg!

But... There may be an appropriate form of clichés. (Now, hear me out!)

We all like swashbuckling action. Errol Flynn is our man when it comes to this. It doesn't matter that his sword fights always come out the same. It doesn't matter that he always get the sparkling-eyed, smiling Olivia de Havilland. We like the fact that his roles are always clichéd. Or, in other words, predictable.

In this short comedy film, Studio C shows the typical sword fight and how hilariously similar they all are. But, in the end, we all love them!

Minor character killed-no harm, no foul. Foot stomp. Spin and recompose. Classic move known as the I-don't-even-have-to-look-at-you. Spin is tactical suicide but it is worth it because of how cool it makes you look. Pierre throws all three men back with seeming ease despite the objections from the laws of physics.

Oh, yeah!

So, do you use a clichéd plot when it comes to your swashbuckling action or not? It's up to you. Just remember, there are some well-used premises that have stood the test of time - and readers love them.

I think I'll go write a little on Rising to the Challenge (The Comrades of Honor Series #3). Sir Kenneth Dale might just be in for another clanging, steel-on-steel, piece of riveting action!

Alicia A. Willis is a home-school graduate, published author, and avid historian. She is a firm believer in the principle that one can accomplish anything by substantial amounts of prayer and coffee. Visit her at her blog or Facebook to view her historical-fiction novels and all the goings-on between writing!


  1. Just a thought but in a historical fiction book couldn't there be period appropriate cliches? Or perhaps even cliches that are were fitting to that time and still used today?

    1. Yes, there could. In fact, I used them in "Remembering the Alamo". You may have noticed some of the phrases such as "not worth the full shilling". Good point. But I was referring to 21st century cliches. :)

    2. I thought I remember reading those but wasn't sure if they were considered cliches. Yes, I knew you were referring to modern cliches. :)

  2. Very funny! Who doesn't love a good sword-fight, especially when the candles get chopped in half?

    That's an interesting thought about cliches being able to deliver what readers want. I suppose that's why they ended up being over-used in the first place. :)

    1. I know! And it happens all the time with Errol Flynn! Chopped candles are just epic.

      That is what I was considering!


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