1. Trave_xx
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    Trave_xx New Member

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    WF's Book of Cliches

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Trave_xx, May 29, 2008.

    Almost every writer asks themselves at least once (hell, if it were just once) if what they are producing has hints of cliches in their writing.

    I've always wondered what constitutes a cliche for each genre. Fantasy? Psychological thriller? Science Fiction? One man's great idea is another man's great idea is another man's great idea, until they all meet each other and hiss, "Oh crap."

    So this board is dedicated to creating a list of cliches you hate to see/have come across in your reading/writing? What should we stay away from? This is what this board is about.

    If you have a good alternative to a cliche, you're welcome to post that as well.

    I have some of my own:

    Fantasy cliches -

    The main character starting out as some lowly type and become someone of great power, the king, the master of whateverness, etc.

    Make your character the ignored son of a wealthy king, seeking for something he is actually good at.

    Your main character is guided and trained by some old man with a beard.

    Just stay away from this. If you must must have some trainer, get a chick, they're less cliche. Or at least cut the beard part, seriously.

    Naming characters in a strange fashion, using mainly K's, Y's, and apostrophes, just for the heck of it.

    I know a dwarf will never be named "Bob," but how about something less exotic and more believable? Cistene sounds more realistic than Keny'dle II.​

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  2. Mousie
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    Mousie New Member

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    Kinda Anti-Guide-style, but here're some cliches that really rub me the wrong way:

    Vampires are always dripping with sexy sexiness. No exception.

    The most popular girl in school is preppy and bitchy. Like, a total bitch. Because people just love those bitchy girls so much.

    Unless your character is really smart and/or dorky, they must never wear glasses. NEVER.

    Elves know everything about everything. Because they're elves.

    When writing fantasy, females are never allowed to be knights or warriors or anything. If they really want to be one, they must disguise themselves as a male.

    Black people don't exist. Neither do hispanics, hindus, asians, arabs, or native americans.

    Powers of darkness are always badass. Who cares if "darkness" is just a bunch of shadows - it's cool.

    Goth/Emo/Punk kids are always outcasts. 'cause it's not like there are any goth/emo/punks in public highschools.

    The cute/sexy/beautiful MC who's got a buncha side characters wanting to have their babies.
  3. starrynight89
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    starrynight89 New Member

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    Mousie: Your responses are so true and they made me laugh, especially the one with vampires. :)

    the love/hate cliche

    Can't think of many at the moment but one thing in the Romance genre that bugs me is when the main character and his/her love interest hate each other in the beginning. Suddenly, they are tangled in a love/hate relationship with lust as the main motive. But at the end, love prevails. . . This cliche has been used over and over so many times.
  4. Wreybies
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    Wreybies iModerate Staff Member Supporter Contributor

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    That one, right there, rubs my raw, right to the bone! Whenever I write a diverse character, people always ask me, "Why is that person that way? What does it have to do with the story?"

    *insane fury overwhelming me!*

    *calming down now*

    *ok, better.*


    When I don't write a 'diverse' character I never get that question. What gives? Why the double standard?


    Cliche that bugs me?

    In Science Fiction, the very near future will be amazingly different to today. We're talking like 20 or 30 years from now. Rediculous.
  5. Sir Lucian the Valiant
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    Sir Lucian the Valiant New Member

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    Oh ye peasants, I will give my grand opinion on this matter...

    The most appauling books that I have ever layed eyes on we're either cliche to the paramount, or the author just wrote quaint pieces that made no sense at all...opposites never make good when looking for a change up unless it comes down to gender or the appearance of the character.
  6. Hulk
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    Hulk Banned

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    Hmm...cliche books? Read Eragon.
  7. Wreybies
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    Wreybies iModerate Staff Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, here's another one for Science Fiction...


    Everything of interest in a Sci-Fi novel happens in America or, every once in a while, Britain.


    *What? Aliens can't want some real Thai food before they show up in the midwest of the US?*
  8. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 New Member

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    The moment a fantasy story has a tavern brawl scene, I'm out of there. Seriously.

    The two good twins--one is studious and intelligent, the other is clumsy and never gets things (e. g., spells) right. They're usually female. I can tolerate the twins motif since it's so common even I use it, but what's with these particular two??

    Orcs, elves, and vampires in general. Unless there's something INCREDIBLY original about them, those just turn me off. So overdone.

    And I'm not sure if this fits under cliche, but I'm perpetually mystified by how many original fantasy stories, even if not set in Japan, feature Japanese names and terms. ???
  9. Mousie
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    Mousie New Member

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    You too?

    Once, I posted a piece of a story on some other site (can't remember what it was - I think it might've been Gaia), and I had a character who was hispanic. The story was about his classmate, who kept a pet monster under her bed, and towards the end of the story-piece the hispanic character finally sees the monster.

    Three people said it was chupacabra.
    :confused: :confused: :confused:
  10. Klee
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    Klee New Member

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    Grrr! I hate that! It gets on my nerves so much! Go back to writing fanfiction goddamit!!
    I understand if someone wants to use a term to explain it, but if all the characters are gonna have Japanese names just set the story in Japan already!!
  11. Al B
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    Al B New Member

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    Ok, a big list, some of these are done to death in films too:

    A car chase, the car ploughs through empty boxes/a fruit stand/ a truck full of some fragile load, which invariably slows down the pursuers

    The hero's gun runs out of ammo, he throws it away

    he's a maverick cop - yawn

    he's a rogue agent - double yawn

    he was the top of his class at the academy - triple yawn

    the protagonist knows how to hotwire a car (do you, or anyone you know, have any idea how to do that?)

    the hero slaps the girl to stop her being hysterical (would that work in real life?)

    he finds a book of matches with an address on, to help with the investigation

    the boss of an agent says 'you've got 24 hours to solve the case'

    the detective/agent knows the assassin will hit his target in a certain location

    the young protagonist has a 'destiny'

    the hero has to ride a dragon

    the young hero meets with elves/dwarves/etc who assist him in his quest

    the protagonist looks identical to someone of great importance

    the protagonist can easily disguise himself as someone of great importance

    everyone has a motive for the crime

    the hero knows how to fly a plane

    the hero knows how to use a gun effectively

    the hero knocks someone out cold, and his clothes are a perfect fit

    the killer makes a fatal error

    the hero has to find the bomb as it ticks away

    the hero knows someone 'at the bureau' who can provide useful data (usually a secretary who wants a date), such as tracing car number plates with just a phone call

    he knows the guy from when they were in 'Nam' together

    the detective turns in his badge

    he only has one bullet left

    the brakes don't work

    the aliens have chosen him for an important mission

    the bullet is stopped by a car door (don't try that in real life)

    the guy is knocked unconscious by an expert blow to the back of the head, which doesn't cause any other damage other than to render him out cold for 30 minutes

    the bad guy is an expert at torture

    the good guy is great at one line wise cracks

    etc

    Al






    .
  12. Klee
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    Klee New Member

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    Mexico, you got a problem with that?
    You forgot, the hero ends up with the hottest girl in the film/book, even if she was a total bitch for the duration of it
  13. companionableills
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    The "ugly girl" wears glasses and geeky clothes, but thanks to new contacts, a makeover, and a shopping spree, is instantly transformed into a sexy, funny, popular object of desire.

    The younger sibling is always getting up to incredibly elaborate hijinks that never result in real damage but a lot of messes and hilarity.

    Girl and guy are annoyed by each other. Grr! They end up randomly meeting a bunch of times/thrown together through wacky circumstances and fall deeply in love. Bonus cliche points if the girl has a less attractive, snarky, foulmouthed, devil-on-the-shoulder comic relief best friend and the guy has a less attractive, deadbeat, sex-crazed, devil-on-the-shoulder comic relief best friend.
  14. Milady
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    Milady New Member

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    Wow, Al. *worships* And now for my handfull of pennies...

    Villains wear black. Or a cape. Or a black cape.

    In a serious, swords 'n' sorcery or high fantasy, nobody gets sick excepting, perhaps, the magic user's occasional magical illness.

    The reader is beat over the head with the "Good vs. Evil" frying pan.

    The protagonist's posse consists of a few of the following: the comic relief sidekick, the comic relief dwarf/fairy/whatever, the Beautiful Girl, the Mentor, the Magical Girl, the Rival, the Big Guy (usually a bodyguard or mercenary), or anything else deserving of Capital Letters.

    Disposable side characters.

    The down-on-his-luck, retired/fired detective/cop takes one last case and finds he loves his job (and usually gets it back.)
  15. TheFedoraPirate
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    The hitman that gets a hit put on him by his own organization.

    If we're meant to sympathize with him the hitman probably will have code calling for him to only kill people he thinks deserve it.

    There will be an evil Syndicate.

    Brainwashing, somehow, someway, was probably involved.

    There will probably be someone who disguises themselves as/or has retired and become a priest...this will be a Catholic priest because Catholics are cooler.

    When the hitman/spy/cop goes off to face his foe whatever he brings with him (rope, paperclips, bubblegum) he will need and will use.

    If locked in a room everything needed to pick a lock or otherwise escape will be locked in with him.

    If the hitman is young expect the older cop chasing him to at some point say, "you're just a kid!".

    Always cut the red wire (or is it the blue one? Damn it.)
  16. Weston13
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    Weston13 New Member

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    I'm new here and thought I'd make this my first post.

    There are plenty of cliches out there that I despise but I think the cliches that really get to me are:

    - battle between good and evil

    - good always triumphs over evil

    - main character/protagonist knows everything about everything even though he's never left home.... *cough* Richard Cypher/Rahl (I only read the first book but that was more than enough to know I didn't like him or Terry Goodkind).

    - Also I don't like overly naive protagonists aka Eragon. I saw the movie and was appalled. I read the first paragraph of the book and again I was appalled.

    There some cliches I haven't tired of yet like elves (in general) or many other fantasy creatures. I can definitely say I'm tired of Tolkien's being rehashed time and time again but other than that I don't mind elves.
  17. Kratos
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    Kratos New Member

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    -The hero is always great at learning. When he discovers his skills, he's instantly all-powerful, and much stronger than people who have been training for years.
    -The hero is always the son of some special character, so there's often a "Luke I am your Father" moment.
    -The bad guy is always incredibly evil/insane.
    -The main villian is always a guy.
    -The hero is a hero because destiny says so.
    -Organized religions are always secretly evil or completely incompetent.
    -Goblins are always stupid and evil
    -Dwarves love gold and fighting
    -There's always some magical item the hero must find, protect, or destroy.
    -Vampires/Werewolves are loners.

    A bunch more, but that's all that I don't think has been said and I can think of.
  18. Mousie
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    Mousie New Member

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    Here's some I forgot to add:

    -Wolves symbolize loneliness and badassery. Who cares if they travel in packs?

    -Everybody loves a cat-girl.

    -...and a wolf-girl.

    -It's not bestiality if it talks and transforms into a sexy human at some point in time.

    -Your main character must have either a bratty, annoying little sister/brother, or a super-cute, super-sweet little sister. Cute little boys don't exist.

    -It's totally OK if your heroine is younger than her sexy male love-interest, but if she's a day older, there's something wrong with you.

    -Acne doesn't exist.
  19. Thekherham
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    The bad guys couldn't hit the broad side of a barn with machine guns.

    The hero fires never misses, unless he is going after the main bad guy in which case, he will save him for the big fight scene at the end.

    The car runs out of gas at the most critical moment.

    When the lackey (is that a word?) tells the head villain, "I won't fail you this time," you know darn well he is going to fail.
  20. PipeandPen
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    PipeandPen New Member

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    The cop can always get a search warrant.

    The cop can always place someone into custody without any real reason (aka based on a hunch).

    Everything is actually a gargantuan conspiracy.

    Laser blasters are obviously the only futuristic weapon.

    Let's face it, your MC is the chosen one, whether he/she likes it or not, but actually does in the end.

    The bad guy can beat the good guy until there's barely any semblance of a human, but the good guy will find a way to win, because of the extra deep-seated strength that being good provides.

    Protagonist is left off the hook for all of her/his crimes, because the massive amount of homicide and destruction is for the greater good, sort of.

    Revenge motivates anyone to anything.

    No one ever farts without it being in an exceptional hilarious circumstance.

    Heavy metal/hard rock = misunderstood anti-hero.

    People that abide by rules/laws are just so uncool.

    Serial killers are always men, stupid testosterone.
  21. Smithy
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    Smithy New Member

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    He may have twenty years or more experience, a knighthood and the words VC, MC, OBE, GCMG, DSO after his name, but the old general will always prove to be absolutely useless when faced with anything outside his (invariably limited) experience.
  22. Gloom Kitty
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    Gloom Kitty Banned

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    A lot of things that may appear cliché can be real life happenings. There is no escaping realism. I’m sorry that’s how I feel sure, to me wizards are cliché a long with many other creatures and scenarios. How many authors are actually original these days?
  23. PipeandPen
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    PipeandPen New Member

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    Originality is dead.:(
  24. Charisma
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    Charisma New Member Contributor

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    I simply hate that one!

    I do believe that some cliches are there for good, and if they're not there then it would be pretty hard to write something up without sounding idiotic. I sometimes add cliches to my story to make people scorn that part of the story - it sometimes works, like many of you right now!

    But as a suggestion, avoid using that dialogue in your story:
    "Let's get outta here."
    It is, according to research, the most frequently used dialogue in Hollywood history.
  25. KingCobra00
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    KingCobra00 New Member

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    Whenever someone says "I'll be right back" in a horror story, said character always ends up dead in some grotesque manner.

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