I wish I were a Christmas Cracker joke writer, for they must be paid thousands in royalties - after all, it seems to be the same old jokes trotted out each year. Saturday was my writers’ circle’s Christmas lunch and there wasn’t one Christmas cracker joke I hadn’t heard before.
It reminded me that that’s what readers feel when a writer uses a cliché. There’s disappointment because the reader has read it before. Then again, it could be argued that there’s comfort in familiarity. As we chatter during our turkey and tinsel lunch, it seems publishers often want more of the same from their authors. In their eyes, readers know what to expect from Joanna Trollope when they pick up a Joanna Trollope novel, in the same way that Dan Brown readers know what to expect when they pick up a Dan Brown novel.
It can be immensely challenging trying to be original and satisfyingly familiar. Yet this is where we should delve into our own emotions and experiences more. We’re all unique. Our interpretation and understanding of something is different from that of others. It’s our own outlook on matters that can help us find our originality. When you’re looking for an original way of saying something, draw upon your own experience and interpretation. What is it that makes you, you? That’s the way of making our work original.
Which response would you like your reader to make: one of surprise and delight, or one of groaning with despair? (How do you respond when you hear a Christmas cracker joke?)
So next time you sit down and write something, ask yourself: is it original? Is it a cracker, or is it a Christmas cracker joke?
Question: What time do ducks get up?
Answer: At the quack of dawn.