I have a project that's been on the back burner because I'm leery of its subject matter. Not that it's offensive, but that it's cliche. It seems that every writing site I look at has at least one person (many times, an editor) joking about another novel that's about a boy and his dog. The trouble is, my project is about a boy and his dog. How do I get around this? Am I worrying about this needlessly?
Great. Yet another question about a novel about a boy and his dog.
You can't get around the fact that your book is about a boy and his dog unless you change it to a girl and her dog. Or a boy and his shark. There've been books and movies in which lions and tigers and bears and wolves and gorillas and spiders and cockroaches turn out to be not so bad. But sharks are always portrayed as killers. They have bad PR. You can be the first author to write a boy and his shark book. Sharks are better than dogs anyway. They don't have fleas, they don't shed all over the house, they swim instead of doing the dog paddle, and they can hold their breath underwater for a long time. You can have a scene where the boy gets bullied by a big kid, and has his shark eat the bully.
Now if you're dead set on a dog, take heart in knowing that the same editors who complain about boy/dog books would have given their first born child to have been connected with recent bestselling dog novels The Story of Edgar Sawtelle and Marley and Me.