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Old 10-27-2011, 07:05 PM   #1
lovecraft68
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Why do cliches keep working?

I was scanning the incest top lists today and noticed that back to back stories had the same exact premise. Being Halloween they were the tried and true plot device of a mother and son at a costume party.

The costume plot device can be great in any genre, but I think incest probably gets more mileage out of it. But it got me to thinking, it's one thing if a bunch of authors write something in a similar vein. I mean let's face it what really has not been done before? And proven devices like that are always good ways to get a lot of votes and views.

But that brings me to my question, how can someone read the same plot over and over again and still think it is that exciting? Granted, a creative author can find a way to put a spin on it, but the average one will just follow an ABC formula.

I'm sure each category has it's stereo type formula story. I know a big one in incest is a sibling catching another masturbating. I have seen it time and again and every time it gets pretty good results.

I'm just wondering what people's theory is on it. to me it would be like eating the same thing every night. Or is it that familiarity that makes it popular? That "Oh I know where this is going!" Thrill.

I don't know, you tell me
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:18 PM   #2
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:27 PM   #3
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Seems to me that the incest fetish appeals to people who don't want any changes in the first place. What's near and dear to them is good enough.

It's a special breed. No pun intended.
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:34 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stella_Omega View Post
Seems to me that the incest fetish appeals to people who don't want any changes in the first place. What's near and dear to them is good enough.

It's a special breed. No pun intended.
But it was a great pun none the less.

I do agree that incest may be one of the easier to please (just look at my scores) but there are cliche's in all categories.

The black stud fucking the white wife in front of the wimpy husband takes up a pretty big chunk of LW for instance.

I guess it falls under if it's not broke don't fix it. Maybe I've become jaded and find myself looking for authors who try different things.
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Old 10-27-2011, 07:58 PM   #5
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yeah well LW is another dose of the same old same old.

All genres rely on tropes, IMO, which can make it hard to write outside the genres. For instance, there are no tropes for half the things I'm trying to write, which deal with gender and other identity fetishes-- and none of them your basic shemale.

If there were a few cliches, at least I would have something to work from, either by subverting, or by expanding...
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Old 10-27-2011, 08:25 PM   #6
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To my way of thinking, most literature consists of tropes. I once did a high school paper on King Lear and found that the story goes back well before Shakespeare got hold of it. His just happens to be better than anyone else's. And as Helen Hazen writes in Endless Rapture at least 90% of the fiction women write are Romances. It's like writing a sex scene. There are only a limited number of things two or so people can do with each other. The devil is, as ever, in the details.
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Old 10-28-2011, 03:07 AM   #7
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The problem is not that incest readers are simpletons, overly fond of cliche or even particularly easy to please. The problem is that incest is an extremely hard category in which to write believably.

Think about it, if you're writing an erotic coupling story, there are a million different plausible possibilities for creating a realistic and interesting storyline. Maybe 'boy meets girl' on a plane, or in the mall, or at a party, or maybe he has known her for years but only as a friend, or maybe it is an old flame he bumped into after losing touch etc etc etc, there are literally endless possibilities. The same applies to other 'mainstream' genres such as Gay Male and Interracial. To a lesser extent, the same even applies to some of the more niche genres. Sure Group Sex, BDSM, Anal, Voyeur etc may not happen that often comparatively, but most people 'have a story' about one or other of the above and it's not hard to think up a whole bunch of plausible scenarios.

Now try writing an incest story, let's say you want to write a good brother/sister story. Suddenly you find every angle and every plot device is littered with believability problems. Why do this brother and sister, who have to be over 18 remember, suddenly develop a sexual relationship just at the time when most brothers and sisters start to drift apart and live their own lives more? How can you create a scenario where both parties simultaneously overcome one of western society's biggest taboos? Why do they suddenly see each other as sexual beings when their entire lives they have been programmed to see each other as everything but that? How can you create a 'happy ending' when the most likely result of such a relationship is a giant clusterfuck?

There are a few reasonable angles you could take. Maybe one who has always secretly perved at the other, blackmails them over something big, providing a tidy rationalisation on one side. Maybe one or both of them, for some reason, don't realise who it is they are fucking. Maybe an event occurs that is such a huge sexual ice-breaker, that it simulataneously pushes them both into considering the possibility of a sexual relationship. Maybe one or the other (initially at least) doesn't really see the relationship as sexual, but more as helping their sibling in some way.

I'm sure you realise where I'm going here. All of the above lead you straight into a brother/sister incest cliche that has been done a thousand times. Completely unknown identity is unlikely, but it is just about possible at a costume party. The most likely sexual icebreaker for siblings would be catching the other masturbating. One of the most logical ways sex could be used in an educational way would be an older sister teaching her virgin brother about sex (another tired cliche that hasn't yet been mentioned in this thread).

It doesn't help that incest is one of the most popular categories on lit. Even if you do come up with something that you have never heard of before, chances are that it has already been thought of and written a dozen times over somewhere in the large story archive. There are just only so many believable permatations of incest to go around. And many of those that do exist are either against lit rules (such as those involving naive early/mid teens) or not particularly erotic (such as troubled children with abusive parents).
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:00 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SevenSquared View Post
The problem is not that incest readers are simpletons, overly fond of cliche or even particularly easy to please. The problem is that incest is an extremely hard category in which to write believably.

Think about it, if you're writing an erotic coupling story, there are a million different plausible possibilities for creating a realistic and interesting storyline. Maybe 'boy meets girl' on a plane, or in the mall, or at a party, or maybe he has known her for years but only as a friend, or maybe it is an old flame he bumped into after losing touch etc etc etc, there are literally endless possibilities. The same applies to other 'mainstream' genres such as Gay Male and Interracial. To a lesser extent, the same even applies to some of the more niche genres. Sure Group Sex, BDSM, Anal, Voyeur etc may not happen that often comparatively, but most people 'have a story' about one or other of the above and it's not hard to think up a whole bunch of plausible scenarios.

Now try writing an incest story, let's say you want to write a good brother/sister story. Suddenly you find every angle and every plot device is littered with believability problems. Why do this brother and sister, who have to be over 18 remember, suddenly develop a sexual relationship just at the time when most brothers and sisters start to drift apart and live their own lives more? How can you create a scenario where both parties simultaneously overcome one of western society's biggest taboos? Why do they suddenly see each other as sexual beings when their entire lives they have been programmed to see each other as everything but that? How can you create a 'happy ending' when the most likely result of such a relationship is a giant clusterfuck?

There are a few reasonable angles you could take. Maybe one who has always secretly perved at the other, blackmails them over something big, providing a tidy rationalisation on one side. Maybe one or both of them, for some reason, don't realise who it is they are fucking. Maybe an event occurs that is such a huge sexual ice-breaker, that it simulataneously pushes them both into considering the possibility of a sexual relationship. Maybe one or the other (initially at least) doesn't really see the relationship as sexual, but more as helping their sibling in some way.

I'm sure you realise where I'm going here. All of the above lead you straight into a brother/sister incest cliche that has been done a thousand times. Completely unknown identity is unlikely, but it is just about possible at a costume party. The most likely sexual icebreaker for siblings would be catching the other masturbating. One of the most logical ways sex could be used in an educational way would be an older sister teaching her virgin brother about sex (another tired cliche that hasn't yet been mentioned in this thread).

It doesn't help that incest is one of the most popular categories on lit. Even if you do come up with something that you have never heard of before, chances are that it has already been thought of and written a dozen times over somewhere in the large story archive. There are just only so many believable permatations of incest to go around. And many of those that do exist are either against lit rules (such as those involving naive early/mid teens) or not particularly erotic (such as troubled children with abusive parents).
All true, but it can be done. My SWB series follows only one cliche that I can think of and it is a small detail and that is the sharing of a jack and jill bathroom which is how they sneak into each other's rooms without the parents knowing.

I mean maybe it has been done, but I have not seen it yet here. My reason the sister seduces the brother? They were seperated at a young age and were both in abusive foster homes. She was sexually abused. They are reunited in their late teens (18)

The sister cannot enjoy sex. She is plagued by anxiety and even flashbacks of being raped. She sees her brother as the only man who truly cares for her and would never hurt her. He has issues of his own and she easily seduces him.

But in general yes incest is not easily explainable, but in another point that is only if the author or reader even cares for an explanation.

Surf incest. There are thousands of one page strokers where it is as simple as "One day sis bent over and ...damn!"

These are usually followed by a second chapter where mom and dad catch them and join in. No one cares this is implausible they want to read about family fucking.

In romance, Erotic Horror especially I think people look for some plot. In incest you can check reality at the door.
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:16 AM   #9
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Seems to me that the incest fetish appeals to people who don't want any changes in the first place. What's near and dear to them is good enough.

It's a special breed. No pun intended.
^^^ Funniest line I've read on Lit in weeks.
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:17 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by Stella_Omega View Post
yeah well LW is another dose of the same old same old.

All genres rely on tropes, IMO, which can make it hard to write outside the genres. For instance, there are no tropes for half the things I'm trying to write, which deal with gender and other identity fetishes-- and none of them your basic shemale.

If there were a few cliches, at least I would have something to work from, either by subverting, or by expanding...
Which brings up my opinion on this matter.

It's one thing to be able to dodge most tropes and cliches (and I define the two as different entities).

It's another thing to be able to dodge them AND produce a story that people will enjoy...
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Old 10-28-2011, 06:28 AM   #11
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All true, but it can be done. My SWB series follows only one cliche that I can think of and it is a small detail and that is the sharing of a jack and jill bathroom which is how they sneak into each other's rooms without the parents knowing.

I mean maybe it has been done, but I have not seen it yet here. My reason the sister seduces the brother? They were seperated at a young age and were both in abusive foster homes. She was sexually abused. They are reunited in their late teens (18)

The sister cannot enjoy sex. She is plagued by anxiety and even flashbacks of being raped. She sees her brother as the only man who truly cares for her and would never hurt her. He has issues of his own and she easily seduces him.

But in general yes incest is not easily explainable, but in another point that is only if the author or reader even cares for an explanation.

Surf incest. There are thousands of one page strokers where it is as simple as "One day sis bent over and ...damn!"

These are usually followed by a second chapter where mom and dad catch them and join in. No one cares this is implausible they want to read about family fucking.

In romance, Erotic Horror especially I think people look for some plot. In incest you can check reality at the door.
Yes, it definitely can be done, it's just much harder than with most categories. I'm glad you've made the effort to do it, I'll try to read your series next time I have some time to spare. You're also right that there are probably a fair number of readers in incest that don't really care about realism and some rather bland stories get high marks. But the same seems to apply to many other categories as well, such as First Time, Group Sex, Interracial, Mature etc. In fact, I think some of the really niche story-based categories such as Erotic Horror and Sci-Fi are probably the exception rather than the rule.

As you seem to have found, I think one of the best ways of writing a believable incest story is to have a strong back-story to explain the characters actions. I have tried to do that with the story I am writing at the moment, but I'm not sure the end result (21k words with only one sex scene at the end) will impress too much. Then I'll probably end up abandoning the incest category as quickly as I found it. Still, we'll see.

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Old 10-28-2011, 07:24 AM   #12
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Yes, it definitely can be done, it's just much harder than with most categories. I'm glad you've made the effort to do it, I'll try to read your series next time I have some time to spare. You're also right that there are probably a fair number of readers in incest that don't really care about realism and some rather bland stories get high marks. But the same seems to apply to many other categories as well, such as First Time, Group Sex, Interracial, Mature etc. In fact, I think some of the really niche story-based categories such as Erotic Horror and Sci-Fi are probably the exception rather than the rule.

As you seem to have found, I think one of the best ways of writing a believable incest story is to have a strong back-story to explain the characters actions. I have tried to do that with the story I am writing at the moment, but I'm not sure the end result (21k words with only one sex scene at the end) will impress too much. Then I'll probably end up abandoning the incest category as quickly as I found it. Still, we'll see.
Don't know about you wasting your efforts. Although a longer incest story with a back story doesn't get the high votes/views as the strokers, I found a decent core audience. SWB's last part went up today. All in all there is 51 installments and I'm still pulling around 75 votes or so.

Please send me the link to yours when it is posted. Personally I love a good story. For me the taboo of incest is not just the sexual attraction, but an emotional bond, a love between siblings. Candlelight062 has some very romantic incest tales, and is a cut above the stroker stuff.
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Old 10-28-2011, 11:01 AM   #13
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It's only cousins actually, not siblings. I'm not really that into incest and I'm sort of dipping my toes in the shallow end because I had a good idea for a story. I'm just putting it through the proofreading grinder at the moment, it should be up in about a week. I'll send you a link when it's up.
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Old 10-28-2011, 12:55 PM   #14
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Which brings up my opinion on this matter.

It's one thing to be able to dodge most tropes and cliches (and I define the two as different entities).

It's another thing to be able to dodge them AND produce a story that people will enjoy...
yes, exactly this. Tropes are very satisfying. That's why they get referenced over and over.

In the thread about the Eragon books, someones says that she didn't care that the books were so badly written, when she first picked them up-- she cared about DRAGONS, MORE DRAGONS.
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Old 10-28-2011, 01:02 PM   #15
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Whether a cliche works or not, depends on the skill of the writer. There is nothing new under the sun. Boy meets girl, boy meets boy, boy meets sister in the shower while mother sit on the toilet and watches, it's all been done before.

Somewhere, someone is writing a story involving all of it and someone will give it a 5.
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Old 10-28-2011, 02:01 PM   #16
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Strange, is it not, that at one time, a Brother & Sister sharing the same house after the parents have died, would NOT be grounds for assuming an incestuous relationship.
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Old 10-28-2011, 02:35 PM   #17
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I'm just wondering what people's theory is on it. to me it would be like eating the same thing every night. Or is it that familiarity that makes it popular? That "Oh I know where this is going!" Thrill.
I think you've got the question backwards. Ask, instead, why they're clichés.

They're clichés because they work. They provide plausible explanations for the otherwise inexplicable.
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Old 10-28-2011, 10:20 PM   #18
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yes, exactly this. Tropes are very satisfying. That's why they get referenced over and over.

In the thread about the Eragon books, someones says that she didn't care that the books were so badly written, when she first picked them up-- she cared about DRAGONS, MORE DRAGONS.
Same thing must have been said about Twilight and sparkling vampires.

On a side note: wasn't the guy who wrote Eragon 15 years old when he did it? WTF was 30something Stephenie Meyer's excuse? Anyhoot.
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Old 10-29-2011, 05:01 AM   #19
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I think you've got the question backwards. Ask, instead, why they're clichés.

They're clichés because they work. They provide plausible explanations for the otherwise inexplicable.
"Cliches become cliches because they are the hammers and saws in the toolbox of communication."

That line, or some close approximation of it, has stuck with me ever since I read it. It's from a Terry Pratchett book, though the particular title escapes me. Remembering that when I'm writing often removes my trepidation towards using cliches or tropes in my stories. Tropes aren't bad, not on their own. It's when they're recycled verbatim by many many people that they become bad. It's entirely possible to put a unique and interesting spin on one or a combination of many tropes that elevates the story above what the individual components might suggest.

Personally, I even use TvTropes as a reference tool, to put names and definitions to tropes I hadn't really thought about all that much. To me, that site is invaluable because it gets me thinking about fiction and narrative in a new way. To think about the individual components that make up a narrative, a character, a setting and so on. I don't know if it's made me a better writer, but it's certainly given me an effective new shorthand for writing plot notes.

Oh, and LJ: Yes, Christopher Paolini was 15 or close to it when he wrote Eragon, and it was self-published. Logically speaking, it's astounding that book has achieved any degree of success. Or maybe I just hate Eragon
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Old 10-29-2011, 08:08 AM   #20
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sr71plt asserted that Paolini's parents were both in the publishing industry and heavily reworked his material before it was published.

Be that as it may, there are clichés and clichés. Some work because we want them to work--the happy ending is a classic example. Most failures stem from the story being a cliché but nothing more--cardboard characters, no local color, poor mechanicals.

Shakespeare lifted most of his plots from Percy or Holinshed or even old Plautus, and were probably around before those guys got to them. The plots work because he did. After all, people still eat Campbell's Tomato Soup, a culinary cliché if ever there was one.

Stella, the pun was brilliant. When can we expect your next story? "Meeting Robby" was beautiful and hot.
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Old 10-29-2011, 09:45 AM   #21
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I think you've got the question backwards. Ask, instead, why they're clichés.

They're clichés because they work. They provide plausible explanations for the otherwise inexplicable.
But at some point each cliche had to be a new idea. It seems as if there are no new cliches being created these days.
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Old 10-29-2011, 10:55 AM   #22
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Originally Posted by lovecraft68 View Post
But at some point each cliche had to be a new idea. It seems as if there are no new cliches being created these days.
I'm not sure what this means. Wouldn't it be that we couldn't recognise these present-day cliches as cliches until they've got some history and accumulated use behind them? It just takes time.
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Old 10-29-2011, 11:11 AM   #23
lovecraft68
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kurokami View Post
I'm not sure what this means. Wouldn't it be that we couldn't recognise these present-day cliches as cliches until they've got some history and accumulated use behind them? It just takes time.
They would become cliches in time yes. Right now they would be considered "refreshing" or new ideas. I see very little of it in the porn world Then again, I sense little call for it, which is sort of my question in the original post.
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:18 PM   #24
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I think the reason why cliches work is because there are a lot of people with the same typical fantasies and they read erotica for the sex not the plot or story. They want something with lots and lots of sex and they could care less about how you lead up to it. People are not very creative when they are horny.... all that matters is getting their rocks off.

On the other hand, there are the others that are very picky about what they read. They get bored with the same ol' same ol' and they tire of reading put cock A into slut b. I mean there is only so many ways you can get off (granted there is a great number of ways) but after a while it reads all the same: Rub it. Lick it. Kiss it. Suck it. Fuck it. Done it!

For those people, we need more creative writing and some skill!. The worst thing I have found is bad spelling (I have dyslexia so when it is spelled so bad I can't figure it out and notice its misspelt its pretty bad ) They do make Spell check after all. The other thing (is) missing words and too many words it (it) happens to everyone but (and) once or twice is one thing but every other sentence is a little much... there is nothing more frustrating then reading a story and having to take 30 seconds or more to figure out what a sentence is supposed to say when you have to figure out what every other paragraph is saying you might as well write your own!

I only bring that up because it is normally the ones with the same old tired plot line and gallons of long roped cum shots and the 44 DDDDD's on a 12 inch waisted girl! yea I'll buy that...if she is wearing a back brace made of steal and has a shopping cart for each tit to haul them around in! even the old tired cliches have there limits on what people will believe!!!

please forgive my errors in the post. I am typing in a hurry and I do not have a grammar checker for post..
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Old 10-29-2011, 12:51 PM   #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lovecraft68 View Post
They would become cliches in time yes. Right now they would be considered "refreshing" or new ideas. I see very little of it in the porn world Then again, I sense little call for it, which is sort of my question in the original post.
You're looking for new ideas in the porn world?????
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