1. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    What Are Cliches to You?

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Kio, Aug 3, 2008.

    Hey, I'm new here. :) Great to be here. I love writing. I plan on publishing a novel in the near future, if I could.

    A friend and I are each working on our own individual plots and we're always trying to avoid these pesky things called 'cliches'.

    I know that cliches are both boring and annoying, so I'd like to know which cliche grinds your gears the most. I know mine is when the hero gets the girl, kills the villain and lives happily ever after. Those bother me due to the fact that their unrealistic and... lame? :(

    Anyway, what are yours?
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Cliches are not plot elements. There are only a limited number of plots in everything that has been written. Cliches are over-used phrases and metaphors that fail to sparkle.

    What makes a story tired and boring is not the plot summary.

    Two kids from feuding families fall in love, and die tragically because of that feud.
    That, of course, is Romeo and Juliet, and it was an old, old theme even when the Bard of Avon penned it. But it remains one of the great plays.

    It's also the theme of West Side Story, and it works well there as well. It has also been the theme behing hundreds of failed novels, short stories and plays.

    The writing makes or breaks it.

    Forget cliche, until you are down to the sentence and phrase level of your writing. An obsession with cliche is so cliche.
     
  3. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Cogito, once again being a wise person. What he said...

    Besides, if you write fantasy (not sure if you do, but anyway), it would seem that cliches are an integral part of writing. But it's still a very popular genre, because, as Cogito said, its the writing that makes it.
     
  4. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    That's not a cliche if 1. it actually belongs in the story, based on the plot that's gone before and 2. it's done in an original or interesting way.

    Ditto with just about every cliche there is. Something makes a situation or a character a cliche just because it's done in a way that is expected and boring. You can have a story where the hero kills the bad guy, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after without it being cliched in the least as long as you write it properly. Same with almost anything else that you'd probably consider a cliche. Some of the most interesting writing comes about because somebody took a cliche and added a new twist to it. For example, say the good guy kills the villain, gets the girl, and lives happily ever after...BUT there's some sort of a catch. Hmmm...

    Some cliches I can't stand in fantasy writing are the obligatory tavern brawl scene (seriously--why do fantasy writers keep doing this?), the twins where one is goofy and always messes up while the other is studious and intelligent (usually female--with male twins one is usually the warrior and one is usually a mage), stories where the main character's very strange name is the title of the book or series (it's like the writer goes out of their way to come up with a goofy name for the character)...I'm sure there are other things. Then there are just "cliched elements" like vampires, orcs, elves, and boy wizards, or a group of teens wielding a different elemental power each, which IMO have been done to death. If these things are present in or are the focus of a fantasy story my chances of wanting to read it go way down. BUT...if the writer does something new and interesting with them, and were to convince me to give the story a try, I might be pleasantly surprised.

    I would never say that just because a story has a cliche or a cliched element like a tavern brawl scene or a vampire in it, that it must be boring or poorly written. It's just going to be a harder sell for me personally. That's an issue on my end, not the writer's.

    What's a cliche to you might be fantastic to someone else. :D Take a look at the popularity of vampire stories, for example. :rolleyes:
     
  5. J Done
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    J Done Member

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    I didn't even know what a cliche was until I read this topic.

    So thanks :)
     
  6. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the advice.

    And you're welcome, J Done. :)
     
  7. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    Tehuti made me think... I think that cliches are like anything to do with writing- they're painful when done by a bad writer, but can be brilliant when done by an amazing one. It's all about how a writer handles them..
     
  8. Chef Dave
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    Chef Dave Member

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    It can be very difficult to write without using some clichés. Comparisons, proverbs, adages, sayings, and figurative language may all be clichés i.e. as quiet as a mouse, strong as an ox, what goes around comes around, live and learn, right as rain snow-capped peaks, smoky café etc.

    The use of clichés does not have to be boring or annoying. It all depends upon how they are incorporated into your writing.
     
  9. inkslinger
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    inkslinger Contributing Member

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    UGH, I hate that! It's everywhere wherever twin characters exist. One is always the 'wild' one and the other is always the 'bookworm'. It really bugs me. I mean, people do realize that sometimes, just sometimes, twins don't necessarily happen to be one or the other? They don't have to be total opposites or even exactly similar. They can have a nice well-rounded personality. One doesn't have to be cold and the other hot. /rant about twin characters
     
  10. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    Cliches, to me, are anything that's been overdone and repeatedly redone without anyone ever putting a new twist on it. An attractive, brooding man meeting beautiful, sassy heroin whose out to uncover his secrets ( and capture his heart in the process)--is cliche only if the ending and all the twists in between (and the characters) are something we've seen a thousand times before.
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    It's only overdone until someone comes along and writes a brilliant piece with that theme. Perhaps just the right combination of characters, perhaps written from a different perspective than most, even simply a writing style that is beautiful in its own right.
     
  12. Alyxandra
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    Alyxandra New Member

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    "And they all lived happily ever after!"

    Any ending which is completely happy and problem-free without a hint of compromise seems impossible to me and has also been done to death in many books. I haven't seen this ending in a particularly long time but I'd say it's one of the biggest cliches...and the worst!
     
  13. Kratos
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    Young farmboy finds mysterious item and bands group to defeat Evil Dark Lord. While I like many books with this general theme (namely Lord of the Rings), its getting boring.
     
  14. That Guy From That Place
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    Old man teaches adolescent boy the ways of the warrior. Villain kills old man and now things get 'personal'.

    ... I hate it!
     
  15. Ore-Sama
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    Ore-Sama Senior Member

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    I hear ya, especially when that boy turns out to be "the chosen one foretold in the prophecy of the Great Plot Device" It's especially bad when the writers don't even TRY to be creative with the formula. LOTR was great but these other ones are kind of stale.
     

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