1. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    Cliche Character

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by AnonymousWriter, Aug 9, 2008.

    Okay, so I've started writing my first novel and have completed 2 chapters so far. My main character is a male who lives in a rough part of town with his grandparents. He feels isolated from everybody else, getting bullied for his hard-working and intelligent nature. I posted my first 2 chapters on a review site and the reviews I got back were that my character was too cliche, meaning the readers couldn't relate to him at all. I don't know what to do now. Do I just scrap the novel and think up another? I don't want to get to the end then find out that nobody can relate to the character at all. Changing the character would pretty much leave me with no story. Any advice?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I don't think the character is a problem. There are many characters I have encountered that I cannot relate to. I think you might need to give your MC more depth and perhaps give the reader more info about him. I'm not sure a lot of people can relate to an intelligent person growing up in a rough area, so it becomes your job to make the character more understandable for the reader. Also, it might be a good idea to post your chapters in the novel section and see what feedback you get.
     
  3. Daisy
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    Daisy New Member

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    Everything is a cliche Anonymous. Absolutely everything. What will make it unique is how you build the story and the characters and draw the reader in. Make them care about this character and they won't care if he's cliche. The word probably won't even enter their minds.

    I wouldn't scrap anything I thought was going somewhere and that I liked myself because someone else said it was cliche. I'd just look for ways to hide that it's cliche by adding more depth to my character and telling a good story.

    Why don't you post a bit for a critique and maybe we can give you some help with it or PM me if you want.
     
  4. AnonymousWriter
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    AnonymousWriter Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the advice guys. It's much appreciated. Keep checking the general fiction novel section, I think I might post the first chapter sometime tomorrow.
     
  5. That Guy From That Place
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    That Guy From That Place New Member

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    Look at harry potter, he's as cliche as it gets. People still love him. Why? Because he develops well... But he is (or at least started off as) the true embodiment of cliche.
     
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There's the cliche cliche again. Characters are bound toi have similar profiles to some other character you've seen. But a well written character can seem completely familiar yet fresh and interesting.

    I wish I could banish the overused, dismissive word "cliche." Words and phrases can be cliche, and even then, they may be part of a character's style. But themes and characters? It's just a cheap putdown.
     
  7. Nilfiry
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    Nilfiry Contributing Member

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    You know what, if you really feel that your character(s) may be cliched, go to google or some other search engine and type in, Mary Sue Litmus Test. The test will help you feel better about your characters...maybe.

    There's always "Trite."
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Missing the point. Just like a plot summary, a character profile is no indication of whether the character will be interesting when written into a story and developed.

    You might as well condemn a book by its cover art.

    If you want to get your advice from a website's programming, though, be my guest.
     
  9. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    This sounds like everyone in my entire friendship group, including myself. Does this make it cliche? NO! It makes it true.

    As thirdwind said, it's probably the lack of depth to your character that makes him appear cliched.

    As Cogito said, Cliche is becoming the only Cliche, and it seems to be like a swear word amongst writers now. Maybe we could make it so that it gets censored out like the other expletives!
     
  10. Scarecrow28
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    Scarecrow28 Contributing Member

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    These days, it virtually impossible for a character NOT to be cliche! And, although it is normally good for a reader to relate to the character, they may not always and may not always HAVE to. If you novel is meant as a form of escapism, then relating to the character isn't AS important, although its a benefit if the reader can. Look at characters like Dirk Pitt or Mitch Rapp...few people could really relate to a adventurer/diver or a CIA counterterror operative but still love them for the escapism they offer.
     
  11. DeceranPlane
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    DeceranPlane New Member

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    Personally I think people in real life have some level of cliche-ness to them, so I don't think a fictional character shouldn't have to totally be uber-original. People in real life do cliche and "overdone" things like keep to themselves and read comics like a nerd and others can be the overly-preppy type that drool over the hot boys and so on and so on, but it's all about how you present them, what newness you can bring to those cliches to make them more original. So I wouldn't totally destroy the characters and start over, just add more layers of realism to them until they are believable and more original. Avoid being too cliche while at the same time retaining their base personalities. (I.e. the nerd that has a inkling for a little Aeropostale and connects with poets on a mental level, but still loves to play WoW every night) Maybe not the best example, but yeah...

    Hope this makes sense ^^;; This is my first post outside of the member introductions...
     
  12. maddiemae
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    maddiemae Member

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    I can can certainly relate to an intelligent person growing up in a rough area. Several of them in fact. I grew up on a reservation, one of my best friends died in the winter, froze to death after having some fun with drugs. I don't even think he saw his death coming. He was a brilliant artist and poet going to the University of Idaho. That was the paradox of my friend, rough life, intelligent, low expectations, great talents... This makes for a great character portrait. Go for it!!!! Make your character live.
     
  13. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Here are my thoughts on this subject. I do hope you take the time to read this, because I believe it is a revelation, a revelation that opened my eyes.

    In real life what makes the difference between a person you might think is a cliché, a cardboard cut out, a fake type person, and a person that you view as a unique individual?

    When you can answer this question, then you have solved the problem, and then you will know what you need to write to make your person that unique individual.

    On the surface every person we meet is a cliché, a cardboard cutout. The blonde with the all to familiar hairstyle, strutting her stuff like a wannabe model, supporting her big sunglasses. We stereotype all the time, don’t we? We see a person and we have a judgment of them.

    If I take the time to get to know this blonde, I bet she changes my first impression I had of her. Think of a movie you have watched that had such a blonde female in it. Perhaps the movie Clueless. At first we had a bunch of females that were not appealing to us, but as we got to see them develop, we grew to like some of them. Why was this?

    It is because we got to learn some of their secrets, their problems, their faults, their weakness, their strengths, their reactions to situations, etc. We got to know them as a person, as an individual. This is our job as a writer.

    We need to build the uniqueness of our characters, by showing the important parts of their past, their secrets, their weaknesses, their strengths, etc. Things that the reader can understand and sympathize with.

    Why do so many people love Dexter, the socialpathic serial killer? I believe it is because the writer gave him unique human qualities that we can all relate to. We know his deepest darkest secrets.

    Think about why and how you become best friends with someone. Oh my gosh I have written too much. I am going to write a thread about this topic.

    I will call the thread, How not to write a cliché character
     
  14. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Sure, but could you leave the word "cliche" out of it?

    Grumble grumble...overused word...grumble grumble.
     
  15. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Cliche is such a cliche, hehe
     
  16. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Exactly. A cliche is a word, phrase or metaphor that is so overused it loses its impact or meaning. Its use to describe a storyline, plot, or character is simply incorrect. The number of distinct character types, plots, and storylines is relatively limited in any case. Uniqueness does not come from any overview of thes elements, but in the specific treatment by a writer.
     

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