It was a dark and stormy night.
The young farmer sat at the bar, a watered beer wrapped in his hands. The Wizard beside him, beard long and grey, was fidgeting in the worst way, making the country bumpkin even more nervous. This was all more than he bargained for.
Lightning flashed outside, setting sparks to dancing in the Wizard’s gimlet eyes.
“You’re a Wizard, Larry,” said the Wizard.
The young lad gawped at the old man. Could this day get any worse? His family had been killed by orcs, and now this Wizard was telling him that he was the only hope to destroy the Evil Dark Lord™ by finding the mythical magical weapon, which was lost further back in time than even the memories of the oldest crones stretched.
“I can’t do this!” said Larry. “I can’t even read, but you expect me to defeat the Dark Lord, who has enslaved entire races?”
“Of course. You are the only one who can. You have a hidden legacy, passed to you from your royal ancestors.”
Larry shook his head, resigned. It was going to be a long day.
We all know them. When subverted, they work to the authors advantage, when let run wild, they bog down a story. If an author approached an editor or agent with a story like the one I wrote above, they’d be lucky to have the first page of their manuscript read… yet, when a book does get picked up, and it moves down the line to the marketing department, it often comes out the other end with a cover riddled with cliches. What’s the deal with this? Clichés within a novel are bad, but clichés on the cover help sell more novels?
So, my question for you:
Why are clichés shunned in the text of novels, but often embraced on the cover? Should publishers look for the same originality in their art departments that they seek in their authors?
So, great readers, writers and publishers, what are your thoughts on clichéd novels and clichéd covers?