My Beloved Clichés, Part I: Dream Sequences and Prophecies

From the perspective of originality, writing clichés is a mortal sin. Even the definition of the word already states this, as a cliché is “a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought”. They can be proverbs or saying – true clichés -, they can be certain descriptions and they can be entire elements of stories. In this case, I’d like to talk about the clichéd dream sequences and prophecies, as everyone knows they make for terrible writing and yet I still love them. Don’t most children do so, though?

As for dream sequences, it probably is not hard to imagine why a writer would love writing them. They can be strange, they can mysterious, they can be downright terrifying… but they aren’t real. Or are they? That is the thing about dreams. No matter how horrible they are, it is never clear whether or not their content really happened. Personally, I love playing with this. Creating frightening dreams is a fun activity and it is a way of showing a character’s internal world. As Freud believed, dreams are like a language. They are our subconsciousness. Where a story is the writer’s subconscious, the dream inside the story is the character’s true experience. For instance, my main character is a slightly paranoid boy, albeit his paranoia has more than enough reasons. There is an alien in his house. What do people think of when they hear that word? Abductions, dissections, UFOs. He dreams of the alien staring at him all night, and wakes up only to find out that he was right about that. Luckily, in reality he was not abducted… Or was he? Yes, I know it is a cliché, but playing with the borders of reality definitely helps with creating an uneasy atmosphere.

As for prophecies, they may be even worse than dream sequences. I admit to knowing this and yet loving them. Yes, I love prophecies, especially the kind that comes in rhyme. I am a bit of a poet at heart, although my actual poetry is horrible. However, my story contains a crazy fortune teller who is not believed by anybody. They love her, but her crazy rhymes are nothing more but that. In fact, she loves toying with people through prophecies. At first sight, she might seem a nice lady, but her true nature is slightly more mischievous. I have to be honest here, the fortune teller appeared in the first book of my series as someone’s aunt and she will appear again, although not as obviously. She still is a driving force in the tale, if only because she annoys the main characters so much that they decide to find out the truth on their own.

Clichés are bad. However, saying that they are bad is just as much a cliché. In reality, I’m just trying to free myself from guilt. Sometimes, clichés can be fun, as long as they are used in the right way. I am sorry for sinning like this. I just hope there is a child somewhere out in this world who can appreciate my work.

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