Cliché Challenge: A Creative Writing Exercise

 

Cliché Challenge: A Rave About Writing
Earlier this month, I wrote a post about avoiding clichés “like the plague.” (And when I ran spellcheck on this post, WordPress underlined “like the plague” in blue and said “Clichés,” which made me smile. )Today, I’m serving up a way to use some of those same clichéd characters, settings, character attributes and plot devices to stretch your creative muscles.

Here’s what you need to do:
Write down your birthday in the classic __/__/____ format. For example, if you were born on July 4th, 1776, you would write 07/04/1776. Now, put another slash before the last two numbers. It should look something like this: 07/04/17/76.  These are your options for the lists below.

If the last number isn’t on a list, add those two digits for your final number.  7+6=13, so thirteen is my the fourth number.  Also, for any novel, you need at least two characters. So, use one number twice.  It’s not rocket science (though  rocket scientist is on the list).

This will give you several possibilities to work with. Such as “A librarian and a dreamy vampire indulge in a no strings affair in a consignment shop” or “A manipulative surfer dude meets a woman disguised as a duke at the library.”

The possibilities are numerous. Leave a comment and tell us what you get. If you can manage a paragraph or two to share, even better.

Have fun!

Characters

  1. Jock
  2. Cop
  3. Plumber
  4. Librarian
  5. Fairy
  6. Mermaid
  7. Vampire
  8. Zombie
  9. Shapeshifter
  10. Witch
  11. Werewolf
  12. Regency buck
  13. Surfer dude
  14. Hippie
  15. Hipster
  16. Princess
  17. Duke
  18. Fashion designer
  19. Pro bowler
  20. Ice skater
  21. Antique store owner
  22. Reality show star
  23. Chef
  24. Alien
  25. Punk rocker
  26. Gang member
  27. Refugee
  28. Bride
  29. Bridesmaid
  30. Groom
  31. Rock star
  32. Fireman
  33. Professional athlete
  34. Accountant
  35. Teacher
  36. Housewife
  37. Writer
  38. Vicar/minister
  39. Waitress/waiter
  40. Amish Man
  41. Private eye
  42. Doctor
  43. Bartender
  44. Best friend’s brother/sister
  45. Bookworm/nerd
  46. Bookie
  47. Bad girl
  48. Good boy
  49. Divorce lawyer
  50. Cowboy
  51. Sheriff
  52. Runner
  53. Nurse
  54. Rodeo Rider
  55. Soldier (SEAL, etc)
  56. Amish Woman
  57. Dentist
  58. Playboy/rake
  59. Flirt
  60. Musician
  61. Assassin
  62. Pirate
  63. Journalist
  64. Bigamist
  65. Smuggler
  66. Female motorcyclist
  67. Ranger
  68. Health nut
  69. Bad boy
  70. Good Girl
  71. Rocket scientist

Character Attributes

  1. Intelligent
  2. Graceful
  3. Can fix anything
  4. Manipulative
  5. Irascible/curmudgeonly
  6. Arrogant
  7. Good-natured
  8. Good sense of humor
  9. Dense
  10. Promiscuous
  11. Prim
  12. Judgmental
  13. Ambitious
  14. Blowhard
  15. Psychic
  16. Romantic
  17. Dreamy
  18. Optimistic
  19. Pessimistic
  20. Flashy
  21. Fastidious
  22. Conservative
  23. Reliable
  24. Honest
  25. Dishonest
  26. Pathological liar
  27. Flight
  28. Serious
  29. Lazy
  30. Hardworking
  31. Realistic
  32. Unrealistic
  33. Polished
  34. Inquisitive
  35. Drab
  36. Unemotional
  37. Loyal
  38. Conventional
  39. Unconventional
  40. Extroverted
  41. Introverted
  42. Aggressive
  43. Passive
  44. Intuitive
  45. Perfectionistic
  46. Messy
  47. Logical
  48. Sophisticated
  49. Very short
  50. Very tall
  51. Unsophisticated

Settings

  1. Parade
  2. Church
  3. School
  4. Library
  5. Street
  6. Airport
  7. Olympus
  8. Bookstore
  9. Amusement park
  10. Soccer field
  11. Gym
  12. Bike path
  13. Consignment shop
  14. Restaurant
  15. Bar
  16. Grocery store
  17. Local market
  18. Airplane
  19. Train
  20. Bus
  21. Castle
  22. Woods
  23. Beach
  24. Cruise ship
  25. Movie cinema
  26. Theater
  27. Fast-food joint
  28. Elevator
  29. Elementary school
  30. Christmas tree farm
  31. College
  32. Class
  33. Farm
  34. Big City
  35. Ranch
  36. Amish Community
  37. Small town
  38. Hospital
  39. Battleground
  40. Police station
  41. Doctor’s Office
  42. Med School
  43. Bar Exam
  44. Music store
  45. Bookstore
  46. Wedding
  47. Starship
  48. Scotland
  49. Gretna Green
  50. London Ballroom
  51. Country Estate
  52. City Townhouse
  53. Mansion
  54. A safari
  55. Auction
  56. Las Vegas
  57. Hotel
  58. Bowling Alley
  59. Book Club

Plot Devices

  1. Hate at first sight
  2. Marriage of convenience
  3. Secret baby
  4. No strings affair
  5. Blind date
  6. Affair with someone’s spouse
  7. Childhood friends
  8. Childhood sweethearts
  9. Childhood enemies
  10. Best friend steals man/woman
  11. Married/divorced/reunited
  12. Revenge
  13. Makeover/ugly duckling to swan
  14. Makeover/Frog to prince
  15. Will stipulates some action
  16. Amnesia
  17. Woman disguised as man
  18. Man disguised as woman
  19. Must put past behind him/her
  20. Quest
  21. Prove worthy of love
  22. Evil twin
  23. Heroine must rescue hero
  24. Evil/nasty mother-in-law,stepmother, stepfather, guardian
  25. Kidnapping
  26. Fish out of water (country boy in big city, etc)
  27. Time travel
  28. Have to prove someone’s innocence
  29. Repayment of a debt
  30. Save a marriage
  31. Run for office
  32. On a mission
  33. Blackmail
  34. Mistaken identity
  35. Witness a crime
  36. Divorce
  37. Childbirth
  38. Adoption
  39. Drug/alcohol addiction
  40. Someone getting married
  41. Runaway pet
  42. Lost child
  43. An heir is needed
  44. Someone inherits a fortune
  45. Someone loses a fortune
  46. A car/train/plane/spacecraft/carriage crash
  47. Passport stolen
  48. Teenager runs away
  49. A fall
  50. A hit and run
  51. Food poisoning
  52. Zip-lining
  53. Bungee Jump
  54. Skiing/snowboarding
  55. Whitewater rafting
  56. Serious Illness
  57. Thrown from a horse
  58. Love at first sight
  59. Return from war

For more fun ideas, check out the websites listed below.
http://www.lifeformz.com/cgi-bin/idea/idea.fcgi  — Random Logline Generator
http://facstaff.unca.edu/pbahls/TitleGenerator.html — Random Romance Title Generator
http://romancenovelyourself.com/ — Put yourself on a romance cover. Here’s what mine looked like: http://romancenovelyourself.com/37b38cd7b9

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About kymlucas

"Taking care not to take love too seriously." Writer of smart, fresh, contemporary romance and women's fiction. Blogging about writing, reading, and more recently, dealing with the ins and outs of breast cancer.
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4 Responses to Cliché Challenge: A Creative Writing Exercise

  1. Sam Byrd says:

    ok I think I have a werewolf who is a pathological liar on a train where he discovers love at first site. what the heck can you do with that….

    Like

  2. Kym,

    A page on my blog has my detailed short-story written as a result of this challenge. If you would care to visit, I would love some feedback as to what you think. I appreciate you adding this to my creative writing exercises post and hope that it will inspire my readers to consider some challenges of their own. The page is titled: Kym’s Creative Writing Challenge.

    Cheers,
    B

    Like

    • kymlucas says:

      Thanks, B, both for following through on the exercise and for posting it on your blog. I hope it was okay that I linked to your post. I sometimes think I should check first. I liked your story, especially the way it moved so quickly from light to dark. Well done!

      Like

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