I’ve been thinking about this for a while now. In one of the craft books I was reading there was a whole section on the topic. The idea was that sentiment is sincere, honest emotion and sentimentality is a pre-packaged emotional bundle.
Clichés become clichés because too many people see the usefulness in the pre-packaged emotions. Unfortunately, once this tactic is recognized, the reader/viewer resists the stale emotional call, and is liable to react unfavorably toward the author/screenwriter.
I hate it when I feel manipulated by an otherwise good movie or book. It always feels like the screenwriter or author took the easy way out. Why substitute good honest emotions for the equivalent of a canned laugh track? The trick, I think, is recognizing when you’re about to do this yourself and reach deeper to find the truth in the situation and expose it for your audience.
It’s intimidating to think of writing about love and trying to avoid the clichés when everything has been said and done before. The best will find a fresh way to present it and a new perspective of looking at how we relate to each other and the inner turmoil experienced as we fall in love.
Which category my writing will fall under is still to be discovered. I know which I’m going to be striving toward, but I’m sure the early pieces will tend to slip toward the path of least resistance. This is going to be interesting as I try to explore feelings between made up people that I often find difficulty expressing in my own life. I never did think that this was going to be THAT easy.