Clichés and Creativity: Princess Gets a Job

Last week in my creative writing class, our professor assigned an interesting exercise: Write a short story of no more than 350 words using as many clichés as possible. We were encouraged not only to include as many overused phrases and expressions as possible, but also to incorporate overdone plot elements in our story.

My piece, “Princess Gets a Job,” tries to tackle a few common elements in romantic fiction. My heroine is a fantastically beautiful woman with every ability under the sun, while my hero is a nose-to-the-grindstone man with eyes for nothing but money. The pair find love in 342 words.

This exercise was so much fun. But what surprised me is how stimulating it was to creativity. As writers, we’re told to avoid clichés at all cost. Suddenly being able to use as many as I wanted was incredibly liberating. After I finished this, I kept writing and went on to add almost 1K words to my current WIP.

My story is below, but I’d love to hear from you. Do you think you could use this exercise? What do you do to get your creativity flowing?

Princess Gets a Job

She was beautiful, in the first place. Stunning really. Like a movie star. Or a princess. Or the president’s daughter. With glowing golden tresses and long, long legs and puckered up blackberry lips. But Cord McManington was a straight shooter with no time for romance. He’d climbed to the top of the corporate ladder by burning the midnight oil. His company’s IPO was just a few days away and he couldn’t afford to get caught with his pants down at this juncture.

“You’re early, Miss Pristine,” he said, leading her into his oak-paneled office.

“The early bird gets the worm. And please, call me, Virginia,” the girl replied. Her hair and breasts bounced with each step and she made no sound as she sank with grace into the leather chair facing Cord’s desk.

Cord hated to blow his own horn but he knew he cutting a dashing figure, dressed to the nines in his wool Brooks Brothers suit. Still he felt unnerved, stiff as a board, in the presence of the gorgeous girl. He needed to keep his eye on the prize. Only the IPO mattered. “I’m surprised the agency sent you,” he said, struggling to keep his tone even. “I glanced at your resumé. You don’t seem to have many qualifications for this job.”

Virginia Pristine’s eyes became as wide as two moons and teared up. “That’s where you’re wrong. So wrong. You can’t judge a book by its cover.”

Cord passed Virginia a tissue. “But what skills do you–”

“I have every skill,” she blurted out. “I can type 200 words per minute, whip up a gourmet feast in an instant and I’m an expert at repairing family relationships. Also, I performed an appendectomy on my father with a Swiss Army Knife when we were hiking in the Himalayas.”

Cord strode to the opposite side of his desk, intending only to pat Virgina on the back. A spark of electricity passed between them. “Virginia, I can’t hire you because…because I want to marry you. Will you be my wife?”