1. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    That's sooo cliche . . .

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by KhalieLa, Oct 27, 2015.

    I’ve been lurking in the forums and this is what I’ve learned from the posts:

    Advanced technology is cliché, magic is cliché, large exotic animals as pets are cliché, dystopian novels are cliché, writing a series is horribly cliché.

    Characters with traumatic past are cliché, prophesy is cliché, family heirlooms are cliché, anti-heroes are cliché, "It was a dark and stormy night...." is defiantly cliché.

    Mythical creatures are cliché, time travel is cliché, monsters and zombies are cliché, heroes are cliché, and stories about dogs are extremely cliché.

    Slavery is cliché, medieval fantasy is cliché, lovers are cliché, stories that include multiple countries are cliché, and elves are always cliché.

    Demons are cliché, legends and folklore are cliché, vampires are cliché, stories set within a single culture are cliché, and rape is so cliché.

    Evil is cliché, characters with meaningful names is cliché, love triangles are cliché, soldiers with PTSD is cliché, and crime in crime novels is totally cliché.

    So, what exactly do you feel IS worth writing about, because at this point it looks like you’ve limited yourselves to humorous anecdotes about cats?
     
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  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    More than anything, I think the word cliché has become the most cliché of cliches. Sooooo meta. :whistle: :-D
     
  3. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    "humorous anecdotes about cats"

    Well, this is the Internet.
     
  4. Lea`Brooks
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    Lea`Brooks Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well first, I'm pretty sure I'm the one who said something about large exotic pets, and I didn't say they were cliched. I said it was a pet peeve of mine to see, because most of the time, there was no good reason to put them in there except, "Oooo, cool!"

    Second, I agree with you. Everything everyone does these days is seen as a cliche.

    Third, you forgot "the Chosen One" as an example. ;)
     
  5. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just because something is a cliche doesn't mean it should be avoided or that it can't be done well.
     
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  6. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    Ok, my serious answer is basically what @xanadu said. All the things you mentioned are cliche, in the sense that each of them have had hundreds if not thousands of books, movies, TV shows, and other cultural products made about them. And a lot of these works probably resemble each other fairly strongly--all zombies are basically the same (maybe they're faster or slower...), all vampires are basically the same (again, with one or two minor variations), etc.

    The bad side of this state of affairs is that, if you write a work about zombies or vampires using the usual formulas, yes, you may be called out for being cliche. The good side is that, since everyone already knows about these stock characters/plots/settings/whatever, you have a pretty good idea of what your audience's expectations and knowledge will be, and knowing your audience is of course one of the keys to entertaining writing.

    The trick is to thread this needle--use your audience's knowledge, but build on it by switching up the formula in some non-trivial way (or use stock devices in some new combination, or see some thematic emphasis that everyone else has missed, etc.).
     
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  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    It's not that these things are themselves cliché, it's the fact that nobody ever does anything new with them. It's like they've read a certain book ( hunger games for dystopian, twilight for vampires, harry potter for magic ) - and used it as a template. They don't bring anything new or of themselves to the trope.
     
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  8. BrianIff
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    BrianIff I'm so piano, a bad punctuator. Contributor

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    As long as no one is talking about "and they lived happily ever after." That would screw up my WIP totally.
     
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  9. Shbooblie
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    Shbooblie Contributing Member

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    It's like music. Every single note has been played before again and again, but people still write new songs. it's just about choosing your own 'cliches' and using them in a way that (hopefully) stands out from the others.
     
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  10. Chinspinner
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    Chinspinner Contributing Member Contributor

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    Are we talking about clichés or tropes?
     
  11. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I did see a lot of people claiming a "chosen one" is cliche, but figured that could be lumped with prophesy. :)
     
  12. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    My point exactly from earlier. :whistle: The word is getting far too stretched out and away from its original meaning.
     
  13. Link the Writer
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    Link the Writer Flipping Out For A Good Story. Contributor

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    They don't mind stuff like magic or people with tragic pasts. They just don't want to re-read Lord of the Rings for the tenth millionth time in a new novel, or re-read Harry Potter's tragic past for the tenth millionth time in a new novel. Otherwise, they'd just read Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter again.
     
  14. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    So that means that fan fiction is cliche???
    All this time I thought it was simply unimaginative, boring, and poorly written for the most part . . . Not all, but most.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
  15. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    I started this thread because I see a lot of people throwing the word, cliche, around in order to put down another person's work or idea. Why not invest in building up new writers?

    So what if book one of a series plays out:
    Once upon a time, on a dark and stormy night, two elf lovers needed to outrun a pack of zombies which chased them across two continents. They did this by using a magical advanced technology that also helped them travel time. The ship was an arc that they filled with large exotic animals which they kept as pets. Unfortunately, the government and culture they tried to escape from was exactly the same in the new country where they landed. The ruler was an Evil Dog Lord who kept a hoard of demons as slaves. The slaves were taught to track down and kill Elf lovers in medieval costumes. The elves enlisted a trio of polyamorous vampires that had been caught in a centuries old love triangle, to aid them as they over threw the Dog Lord's government. In the process one of the vampires got raped by a mythical creature, named Good, who suffered from PTSD as a result of serving in the Dog Lord's army. It turned out that there was a prophesy about the Dog Lord and a family heirloom, that states that once fulfilled the Dog Lord would be swatted by a rolled up news paper, causing him to cower in shame behind the couch. Good was so impressed with the sex and the prophesy that he switched side. Legend and folklore traditions say that the prophesy can only be fulfilled once a pair of elf lovers with horribly traumatic pasts can rally with the creature Good, which they did. Thus the story has both a hero and and anti-hero. The End.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2015
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  16. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's not the big picture cliches you should be scared of. It's the emerald eyes and the mahogany tables and the weeping sunsets that you should be wary of incorporating into your prose.
     
  17. Lilly James Haro
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    Lilly James Haro The Grey Warden

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    It kind of looks like you have just picked and chosen what you wanted to hear from everyone's posts as opposed to reading the explanations. Noone is saying avoid these at all costs or that they are cliché, they are usually just saying be careful because they can be over done. As long as the writer explores these in an interesting way that is their own and give their own interpretation, all these ideas and tropes are absolutely fine.

    Though I suppose you won't listen to anything myself or other forum members say as you seem to have already formed your opinion on us and I doubt you can be convinced otherwise
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2015
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  18. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    People: Oh my god that is so cliché.

    Me: *writes it anyway*

    People: It's been done a thousand times.

    Me: *writes it anyway*

    People: Well I, for one, don't like it!

    Me: *writes it anyway*



    I have 32,857 clichés in my vampire story. I counted.

    *writes it anyway* :write:
     
  19. Tenderiser
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    Tenderiser Not a man Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    I really like that analogy. We all use the same notes but we put them together in different ways to create different 'songs'.

    For every person that despises a certain trope there'll be another who buys and reads every single book that promises the same trope. I think one of the most valuable lessons for a writer to learn is that you can't please everybody.
     
  20. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I never understood the point of this sort of conversation.

    1. There's no guaranteed one to one ratio between those who will like a type of story and those who won't.


    2. There's no guarantee that those who will dislike your type of story are not going to be better at delivering criticism than those who like your type of story will be at praise.

    3. Not all stories of a particular trope are created equal. Eg, Kate Upton and Rosie O Donell are both considered large women.

    4. Statistically speaking, your writing is going to be poor, anyway.


    5. Consider how many other people who are also writing your particular trope you will be competing with.
     
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  21. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I don't understand...

    You know that things become cliches because they work, right? There's nothing innately wrong with them.
     
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  22. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    I don't know why it took so long, but this thread reminded me of this:

    (takes a weird turn toward the end, just bear with it)

     
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  23. Morgan Stelbas
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    Morgan Stelbas Active Member

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    Talk about weird turn at the end... was this for an actual kid's show, or a bunch of adults on an acid trip?
     
  24. Imaginarily
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    Imaginarily Disparu en Mer Contributor

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    It's satire.
     
  25. DefinitelyMaybe
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    DefinitelyMaybe Contributing Member Contributor

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    Any cliche can be reinvented in some way shape or form. IMHO, it's only a cliche if it's used without reinvention or at least a significantly new view.

    Can anyone name a cliche which they believe can't be remade in a fresh way?
     
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