Want to avoid cliches? Try reading (or writing) historical fiction!

What are your reasons for reading historical fiction?

Of course, there are lots of reasons. If you enjoy historical fiction, or anything else, you can’t always say why. If you try to do so, it can spoil your fun. You can overanalyse things. One reason could be just a love of history. Another could be a fascination with a particular character. Then you might enjoy trying to separate the facts from the fiction. But I would like to suggest another pleasure might be that it’s a way to get away from cliches.

A quill pen. Did historical writers use as many cliches as present day ones?
A quill pen. Did historical writers use as many cliches as present day ones?
Why do you find cliches less prevalent in historical fiction than elsewhere?

When writing historical fiction, I have to be careful to avoid words and phrases that are, or seem, anachronistic. Most cliches I come across have been created in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Journalism and television have contributed a lot. This could be due to laziness by the writers and presenters, or it could be because they believe, rightly or wrongly, that cliches make things easier for the public to relate to. Their very familiarity has earned them a certain acceptability. People like what they know.

How do I cope with creating cliche-free historical fiction?

I enjoy the challenge of finding ways to express myself that do not sound too modern. (On the other hand, I also try to avoid sounding too old-fashioned. I want the narrative to flow easily.) This means I have to think what it is that I am trying to say and either use plain words or find metaphors and similies that have not been overworked. Some could even be original. Whether I succeed or not is for you to judge. I would welcome your feedback. Start with Highwaypersons, Debts and Duties, or wait for the sequel, The King’s Justice.

Highwaypersons: Debts and Duties by [Monmouth, Geoffrey]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *