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"LB: In addition to international conspiracy, intrigue, academia, mystery, murder, and awesome travelogue, there is also a very refreshing take on friendship and romance. On the blog, Phangirl27 perfectly articulated the question I wanted to ask you when she posited, “It seems like everything is a cliché nowadays, particularly when it comes to romance in novels. How do you avoid clichés?”

Do I? I certainly hope so.  I think there’s a difference between clichéd language—which is easily avoided (or used consciously to your advantage), if you’re diligent—and clichéd plot/character, which can be much harder to avoided.  And maybe even impossible since, for example, how many different kinds of romances are there to write? I think the best way to avoid seemingclichéd is to try to stay away from generalities and make your characters as specific as possible. For example, in the first draft of The Book of Blood and Shadow, Adriane was just your ‘typical’ kind of bitchy, kind of ditzy best friend—which made her hard to like, and also hard to see as a real person.  Similarly, in the first draft, the friendship between Nora and Chris is pretty generic. They could be any two people hanging out, and the only reason you know they care about each other is because the author tells you so.  I think specifics save you from all that, most of all when you’re writing about two people falling in love. Because the structure of every romance may be the same—and may be a cliché—but the details of two individuals connecting over their shared weirdnesses? That’s got infinite possibility."

That is a very good answer. I have to say, I personally have a real problem with it in my writing. It seems like everything has been done a million times before and each romance is just another cliche. There are many authors out there who do have almost cliche romances. Such as the one Cybele's Secret by Juliet Marillier (one of my favourite books I just can't stop re-reading). Her romance is a triangle between a young woman, a dashing pirate and her bodyguard. Definitely sounds like a cliche. But the journey in the story is very much not a cliche, which in turn causes the romance to not be a cliche. I also think Robin Wasserman is right, the specific characters really do make a difference. Characterizing characters may seem obvious but if they are generic then that is what makes them cliched. Everyone has their own little ticks and hypocrisy's no one is a single character type (e.g. jock, nerd, etc.) This is definitely something I strive for in my writing and in the future I will pay particular attention to.