I hear a lot of talk about cliches in writing forums but as I was just reading a highly praised book (the one I mentioned in the 'chicken or egg' OP) I caught myself rolling my eyes at a certain passage, so I paused reading and asked, "Okay, why did that just irritate you?" My answer (to myself, yes I'm weird that way) was because it came off very cliche which BORES me instantly. (OTOH I believe it's impossible to create any written work that doesn't contain at least some commonly familiar things. So I usually expect any book to have at least some cliches. Should I not?) As I read the page in question, I thought: 'Hmmm, wait. It's not the actual words in the dialogue, but the THING they are discussing that sounds tired, because I've heard it in a thousand other books or movies.' And that's when this hit me: the thing that I call a cliche may not be a cliche at all. So I looked it up: 1. a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought. "the old cliché “one man's meat is another man's poison.”" synonyms: platitude, hackneyed phrase, commonplace, banality, old saying, maxim, truism, stock phrase, trite phrase; a very predictable or unoriginal thing or person. 2. a stereotype or electrotype. The passage from the book that made me roll came off as far too familiar (shop worn?) dialogue about a policeman being "Just one screw-up away from suspension... I'm gonna take your badge... When I'm done with you you'll be back on traffic duty..." etc. Sorry but I have heard this so many times I can't take it anymore. (argggh! lol) At this point, even if cops really do get threatened this way in real life, it still comes off boring to read that. So, I get that an overused word/phrase is a cliche, and that a stereotype is also a version of a cliche. But what do you call the kind I am referring to, the over-used situation/idea? Mind you, I'm not referring to the actual word choice or dialogue/phrase, but rather to the IDEA that's being re-hashed over and over in so similarly a manner, over many different written works. It's a too familiar thing happening in the story, and it comes off unoriginal, like the writer can't think of a new way to do it. Does this make sense? Is this a cliche too? Or is it called something else? I guess you'd simply call it, The Unoriginal Idea? Thanks in advance for your answers.