1. TheSpiderJoe
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    TheSpiderJoe Senior Member

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    Writing Cliches

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by TheSpiderJoe, Oct 18, 2011.

    Hey everybody!

    I was having a discussion with some friends about plot elements in one of our favorite books and when someone asked me if I did something similar in my story I replied "Nah, that's too cliche."

    Which got me wondering, what do you guys consider cliche in writing and which ones do you try to avoid at all costs?
     
  2. Victoria Baye
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    Victoria Baye Member

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    Specifically, for plots:

    Anything having to do with a drug distributor who decides he wants out of the business and then is harassed and chased down by his angry dealer. This goes double if the dealer has a New York accent...

    Two people that have always been in love but then end up going their separate ways and eventually reuniting...

    Scenes:

    A guy at a wedding who ends up having a pity party because he's in love with the bride so he runs away and ends up in in seclusion somewhere drinking alcohol from the bottle. Or vice versa.

    Any protag/villain conflict full of "witty" one liners interspersed between punches/gun shots etc.

    Those are the only ones that immediately come to mind, haha, mainly because I've recently read them. They should be avoided by most writers, and handled delicately in the hands of the most genius ones, I think.
     
  3. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    In fantasy, anything that mentions the four elements or is based off them.
    Young protagonist that befriends everyone they meet, including their enemies in a matter of minutes. Defeats everyone through the power of teamwork, friendship, and love, etc. There is much more to write, much more to explore, if there are more conflicts between the characters.
    The the afterthought comic relief/political correctness character.
    Epic battles of epic proportions on back of epic dragons in an epic landscape.

    Otherwise, I'm open minded.
     
  4. Silver. Fox
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    Silver. Fox Member

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    This is the conclusion I've come to.
    Everything, every idea for every book, game, movie, has already been done, which would mean everything you write, read, play, or watch, has SOME cliche in it. However, as long as you put your own twist on your work, it's all good.

    Man, that was kinda explained really bad, but I'm sure you all get it.
    The cliche's I try to avoid
    When watching/reading: The protagonist who wins everything no matter what the odds or the cost. Homeboy could be on his knees with his hands behind his back with guns pointed at him by 500 men, but he'll walk out better than before and say something like "Oh yeah, it was easy I..."

    The cliche's I try to avoid when writing:
    The above~
    The single bad guy who NEVER learns his lesson and never stops "I'LL GET YOU NEXT TIME NO MATTER WHAT!!!!"
    Protagonist who discovers super special awesome naruto/bleachesque powers later in the story after being beat to hell
    Protagonist who stands up ready to fight back after he's been shot in the back of the head, hit by a bus, disemboweled, and pushed down a mountain covered with cacti.
     
  5. mattyb
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    mattyb Member

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    Do any of you consider 'haunted house' stories as cliche? Especially when one of the main characters goes from sceptical to believer because of his experiences in the house? The house is only a small part of the story (in fact it only appears in one chapter and isn't even really haunted) but it's the opening chapter and is needed to set up the story. And I don't want people thinking 'I've read this sort of thing a million times' and not reading the rest (which is extremely un-cliched!). I could add a couple of twists but the basic chapter would still be 'Man goes to place believed to be haunted, has bad experience, escapes and is never the same again.' Like I say, this is only the opening and the rest of the story is very different, but I don't want people thinking 'cliche' too early on.
     
  6. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    I recently watched a marathon session of crime drama on a UK satellite channel dedicated to the genre (Alibi). In order, the doctor did it, the policeman did it, the doctor did it, the policeman did it, and the nurse did it. So I would suggest that in that genre the culprit being a police officer or medical professional is a cliché. I would also suggest that the motive of a seemingly random series of crimes being specifically to disturb the main detective is also a cliché (Wallender, Sherlock, Rebus, I'm looking at you all).
     
  7. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    The Chosen One.
     
  8. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I wouldn't say it's a cliche. It's probably just what that show does. I've noticed certain shows have their own formula for how they write an episode.
     
  9. motormouth
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    motormouth Member

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    I HATE THAT ONE. ONE DAY MAYBE ILL WRITE THIS- THE CHOSEN ONE FAILS AND THE SIDEKICK FULFILS THE PROPHESY
    What i hate is this-

    male and female protagonists HATE each other, at the endthe haterd and the differing personalities which caused it disappears and they fall in love.OVERDONE TO DEATH
     
  10. motormouth
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    motormouth Member

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    I HATE THAT ONE. ONE DAY MAYBE ILL WRITE THIS- THE CHOSEN ONE FAILS AND THE SIDEKICK FULFILS THE PROPHESY
    What i hate is this-

    male and female protagonists HATE each other, at the endthe haterd and the differing personalities which caused it disappears and they fall in love.OVERDONE TO DEATH
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Totally agree!
    I think there's no genre where it's easier to fall in the cliché-trap like in romance (which I happen to be writing, so I have cut out loads of parts that I later realised didn't feel very unique. It's true the everything has been done before, but some things really has been done too much that it's hard to even get a fresh approach to it.
     
  12. Jabby J
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    Jabby J Member

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    Seriously, the noir story line and style is pretty cliche. But it's almost to the point of coming back around being so cliche it's cool again, as long as it's done correctly that is.
     
  13. madhoca
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    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

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    - She sets up a man for her best friend but ends up marrying him herself, even though at first she hated him (Emma)
    - Saga of a boy with an unhappy childhood, who fortunately manages to find his only relative, marries a beautiful girl who is wrong for him but dies, then marries the girl who loved him all along (David Copperfield)
    - Human falls in love with vampire (Twilight)
    - Single girl is looking for a man (Bridget Jones' Diary)

    etc etc Who says cliches don't work?
     
  14. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Tough but inspiring sports coach takes a ragtag bunch of losers and molds them into a championship team. Yawn.
     
  15. Silent Archer
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    Silent Archer New Member

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    Basically, stories that I feel like I have heard before. When I started reading the Hunger Games I thought it was going to be too cliche, but there was something about it that kept me hooked. I think one of the biggest ways to avoid cliche is to invite unexpected turns to happen. If the writer is surprised, how much more will the reader be! It might not be the best philosophy, but I feel it's a big factor. Also, beautiful, flavorful writing always keeps me interested.
     
  16. lostinwebspace
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    lostinwebspace Active Member

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    The vampires-versus-werewolves thing is being done tod eath now. Thanks, Underworld and Twilight.
     
  17. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    They were all different shows!
     
  18. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lord of the Rings goes one step further, of course.
     
  19. ShadowScribbler
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    ShadowScribbler Member

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    But can you really count romance? Even though a lot of it is cliché, you can't help but love love.

    My biggest problem would be characters whose only flaw is that they are flawless. Yes! She's so perfect! That's her flaw!

    Eff that, that is no flaw. Also, whilst I love clever young people, I hate when they try to make them so much smarter than older, experienced folk. (I am looking at you, Oscar Wilde)
     
  20. suddenly BANSHEES
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    suddenly BANSHEES Contributing Member

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    Depends on how it's written. If the characters are locked inside said house at night, during an absurdly heavy storm, than that'd be pretty cliche'd. But, as some other posters have pointed out, if you put your own little twists on it, it can still work and be interesting.
     
  21. Fullmetal Xeno
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    Fullmetal Xeno Protector of Literature Contributor

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    Stories with some type of Prophecy and the hero has to fulfill it. God those stories piss me off. My fantasy story doesn't have that, thank god.
     
  22. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    Oh gosh, everything is full of cliches. You can't outrun cliches. You can downplay them but they catch up to you eventually. Maybe they are cliche because they work? lol Wanna avoid cliches? Write a story full of stuff that doesn't work. lol But seriously, I don't really try to avoid cliches. I just write the story and trust that it'll be unique enough to be worth reading.
     
  23. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    By taking the focus away from the plot it's easier to avoid having so many clichés because you're not relying on certain devices to keep the reader entertained. Whatever the plot it's the stories with the strongest characters and the best use of the clichés to explore a message or theme in a new way that makes a story worth reading. So I don't see my work as trying to avoid clichés. We bump into each other from time to time and say "oh hi" but we're on good terms: I'm not going to run screaming because one waved at me. :p If you follow typical plots but don't use the traditional resolution or vice versa then it also helps, eg: after what appears to be first act of a romance something happens to one of the two main characters that means they just drop the romance idea entirely and carry on platonically and on good terms, and if you're still in the romance genre, switch the focus to another point of view such as the typically overlooked best friend. Or the hero gets 3/4 of the way through the story before realising a loop hole and wiggling out of the prophesy. He comes back later and saves the day, but not how he was supposed to (imagine Harry Potter came back and just helped fight mooks while Neville got to do the epic "kill Voldemort" part of the prophecy after all).

    Both those examples are all about embracing clichés and playing with them rather than shying away. Both might be a bit disappointing to the reader who was expecting it to go as planned, but sometimes not doing what's expected is exactly right, even if it seems a bit lame. You just find a new way to tell it that makes it exciting for other reasons.
     
  24. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    Uhm. Love triangles.
    Love triangles that involve vampires.
     
  25. ShadowScribbler
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    ShadowScribbler Member

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    You know what else is a really boring, really downtrodden theme? That whole "modern vampire" garbage. God, sometimes I hate Anne Rice for making that fashionable. It was fresh and quite lovely when she started, but frankly? It is one of the things I cringe from nowadays. If you tell me your story is set ESPECIALLY in the United States and your MC is a vampire that has been around for centuries, I will politely excuse myself and leave before I throw up in my mouth a little.
     

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