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  1. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

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    Clichés

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by LoaDyron, Dec 6, 2018.

    Everybody has been there. Everybody knows what those creatures can cause to a writer, headaches and nightmares. Nobody wants to read a cliché, and nobody wants to write one. However, does it mean a cliché is terrible? Or only just an idea that isn't explored properly? Or are they to be ignored? After watching the video I'm going to post, it makes sense that clichés aren't good but neither bad. It's really up to us writers to transform a cliché idea into a more complex and interesting one.



    Do you agree with the video? Or do you believe that a cliché is still wrong no matter what? Share your thoughts guys :)
     
  2. Nariac

    Nariac Senior Member

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    Cliches are simply tropes that have been overused. That doesn't mean they're bad, but generally it's nice to have the feeling you're writing a somewhat fresh and original idea which can excite people because it's new or you've made it feel new. Cliches won't do that, so there's perhaps an instinctive aversion to them. But it's important not to forget that cliches are tropes, and tropes are the building blocks of stories. You can't scorn them all and you can't avoid them.
     
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  3. Wreybies

    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I think it boils down to the subjectivity that the narrator in the video mentions.

    A long time ago I was participating in a back and forth chat in a review left by someone with respect to a book written by Octavia Butler. The reviewer waxed rhapsodic about her detestation of what to her was the cliché of "precocious children", a phrase Butler uses outright in the particular book in question.

    And when I say that this person waxed, she waaaaaaaaaxed.

    The trope got under her skin like a bad case of chicken pox. Important to note, we're not talking about a phrasal cliché (overused words), but a trope cliché.

    I know the book practically by heart, so it's not that I was blind to what this person was pointing out; it's just that I didn't see it as a cliché. The reviewer rattled off a number of other books where this most "heinous of clichés" reared its unfortunate visage, and after a little more conversation, I had no choice but to inquire as to the reviewer's real-world age.

    She was a rather young person herself.

    I don't think the thing she was pointing out is really a cliché. It's certainly a trope, and it certainly got under her skin, but it slid past me as unremarkable because
    1. I'm not remotely of an age to care that deeply and be that prickly about how youths are represented. I care about other things - certainly - but that particular thing... meh.
    2. And I don't tend to read books wherein youths feature strongly.

    Subjectivity.
     
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  4. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    Clichés are not good. Clichés are not bad. Clichés simply are. I'm onboard with that.

    I'd take it a step further: originality/unfamiliarity are not universal values in and of themselves.
     
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  5. Mckk

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

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    It's my opinion that a cliche became a cliche precisely because it works. People wouldn't keep using them otherwise - at its core is a basic idea that truly resonates with people and works goddamn well. It became a cliche because people kept using it and it became overused. Avoiding cliches is like saying you're gonna avoid, I dunno, salt, or garlic because both taste foul when they're overused. As with most writing devices, you just gotta use it right.

    Also, some people live for cliches. Look around Hollywood and you know - I just recently tried to finally watch The Greatest Showman and we didn't make it past the 30min mark because OMG the cliches! But hey, it's a popular film as far as I'm aware, so clearly millions of people disagree with me. Like I said, some people live for the cliches.
     
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  6. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I believe there is always a better way to say something rather than resorting to a cliche.
     
  7. Nariac

    Nariac Senior Member

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    But how does one improve upon "love conquers all?!"

    :p
     
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  8. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    I believe framing cliche use as a "resort" is narrow-minded.
     
  9. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Come on. There are a million better ways to say that same thing. For some reason, a lot of armature writers think it's okay or even necessary to use cliches. I don't often come across them in what I read, and I would certainly like to keep them out of my fiction. Cliches are not creative, but I bet a lot of you are. Anyone who resorts to cliches might want to tap a little deeper into their creative side. Cliches are 100 percent avoidable in my opinion.
     
  10. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    I really wish you would stop attacking me and my comments.
     
  11. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    I wish your writing advice wasn't so unreasonable.
     
  12. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Wow. You know what? I think I've had just about enough. I am a professional and would like to think I offer sound advice. You seem like you don't have a clue as to what you're talking about. And if my comments and time aren't valued here, I don't need this. You're really being a jerk and I hope it makes you feel good to put people down. You really offered me to the point where I feel unwanted and unwelcome. And it seems like that was your point. I hope you think twice the next time you want to be mean, but you probably don't because I really don't you give a shit. Have fun with your cliches. That's just what readers are looking for.
     
    Last edited: Dec 7, 2018 at 10:01 PM
  13. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    By using the word "resort" to cover all cliche use, you've "put down" everyone who uses them and/or prefers them. That IS a narrow-minded belief.

    And I will "have fun with my cliches." And so will loads of other people, with or without your approval.
     
  14. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    If you like it, it's a trope, not a cliche. If you dislike a trope due to over exposure, it is a cliche (iyo).

    Some turns of phrase seem cliche to everyone because they are used in kids books. "It's rain cats and dogs!"

    I still like "farm boy chosen ones," so I don't think that trope is cliche.
     
  15. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Member

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    Honestly, I don't really notice or care when cliches pop up in what I write. I kind of aim for a more defined theme and character arc, and when or if it hits a cliche I basically just brush it off and keep going. In fact there are cliches, or tropes or whatever, that I admit I openly employ and I've been told before that I use them and even overuse them and I just kinda keep going.

    I've been told a lot, A LOT, of the central heroes in my stories fall into the "90's Antihero/Rated M For Manly" stereotype. I honestly think that's cause I grew up in the "grim and gritty" era of comics and so the first time I saw a Rob Liefeld comic I wanted to have the guy's babies, but sadly that was a dream to never be, both because we're both straight and because I don't have ovaries. (sighs mournfully) Anway...wait...Where was I? Oh yeah! Point is, like 90% of the characters I write, especially male heroes, tend to not look out of place in Youngblood comics. Is it "cliche"? Yeah, I guess, but I love it. Also "Recruit Teenagers With Attitude", as like almost all of what I write is centered on early to mid-teen youths and the trials and foibles of their love lives, with the sci-fi and action elements thrown in to suite my own escapism and love for Star Wars, so again I realize that's "cliche" I just accepted it long ago and moved on. Anyway, here's a tv tropes arcticle to get you up to speed...

    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/NinetiesAntiHero
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RatedMForManly
    https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/RecruitTeenagersWithAttitude

    That, but in space. That's like a treatise on my male characters 9 times out of 10.

    So in conclusion, I don't avoid cliches, I just accept that I like certain types of storytelling (usually soap opera-y, dark, cyberpunkian space operas) and embrace it. It's my writing style and I'll cry if I want to. Honestly, like way back in 2001 I showed my mom some of what I wrote and her response was "You realize this is basically Peyton Place on Babylon 5" and I had no idea what she meant, having never read the book. But in retrospect, now having read it, yeah I can see the similarities. My point is, let the cliche flow through you young padawan.
     
  16. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

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    Well I suppose we all have our guilty pleasures :bigsmile:
     
  17. 18-Till-I-Die

    18-Till-I-Die Member

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    @LoaDyron
    Also like, btw, I seen your videos before I didn't really know who made them and they're really funny...but uh, dude, you like need to have someone look into what your thing is with Love Triangles lol

    Like I get it the trope is kinda worn at this point but wow, what did Love Triangles do to you to deserve this constant hatin'? Did a Love Triangle steal your GF or something? Ironically triggering a love triangle with the Love Triangle trope?

    (SARCASM! THAT'S SARCASM!)
     
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  18. LoaDyron

    LoaDyron Member

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    Lol personally love triangles aren't my cup of tea, now tragic stories yes! My trope if you like :superwink:
     
  19. Matt E

    Matt E Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8 Supporter

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    Humans can't really come up with original ideas, because that's not how we think. We're good at mixing a bunch of different ideas together to create new ones though, and that's what a work of fiction is. Most fiction can be traced back to things that have purportedly happened in legend. The exaggerated exploits of real people, retold and remixed through the ages, creating new stories that become progressively more interesting as each writer adds to the pool of ideas.

    If you pick a single idea from this pool that someone else already used, that's unoriginal. That's just retelling someone else's story. If enough people retold that same story, such as angsty farm boy takes on evil empire, then it's a cliche. It's lost its weight. But stories are made up of a lot of ideas, not just one. It's like a stew. So if you make your stew out of a lot of different ingredients, in combinations that haven't been seen before, it will have its own unique taste.

    Often, you can take a single cliche and find out what molecules make it up. You can pull out the parts that you need and get rid of the rest. For example, take the prophecy. Why do books have prophecies? Perhaps because they combine foreshadowing, a call to adventure, and introduce conflict? I suppose not all prophecies do this, but all of these objects are accomplished by this thing that you might recognize.

    Maybe there are other ways you can accomplish these same objectives? Even if you want to create a feeling of inevitability that something will happen, you can do that by making your character absolutely certain that it will happen, in the same way that Harry Potter was absolutely certain that Snape was jinxing his broomstick. Then the hero can turn out to be wrong. Muahaha.
     
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  20. JLT

    JLT Contributor Contributor

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    I avoid clichés like the plague. Wouldn't touch 'em with a ten foot pole.
     
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  21. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I found this a fine statement, Deadrats - don't let anyone scare you off giving advice, I enjoy it. Especially the word resort. Unless someone is an amateur writer, they know clichés, and they they're basically 'pointless' and too much of them are as empty as superlatives -- fantastic, wonderful, amazing, incredible! and to resort to them is basically sloppy. A writer can do better. Not every cliché should be hounded but then again wouldn't any writer rather be the person who creates a comparison that everyone wants to quote -- the originator of a future cliché? I know I would. My favorite author is Nabokov he's used clichés but man, what an empty pointless writer he'd be if he used too many of them. He originated words and phrases he didn't lean on old ones.
    I also think we're comparing apples to oranges here, there is cliché and then there is trope/scenario/format/genre -- I think yes those things can be described as becoming cliché but are they cliché so much as brand expectation? Especially if readers are reading them because they are the same as another book?
     
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  22. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    Could you explain how cliches are pointless?
    Actually, you should probably define these terms first.
     
  23. peachalulu

    peachalulu Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Raining like cats and dogs -- while fine in dialogue ceases to have any real meaning anymore. Yeah, heavy rain I get it. But it doesn't wow anyone with it's analogy anymore. Like I said a few isn't going to kill you or wreck your story it's the idea of leaning on them. I read some self published story on Smashwords years ago -- I wish I could remember it to show you what I mean but this woman started describing her characters and they're history and everything was cliché. Everything. Fine if she was starting out in her writing career because it should work itself out. Not fine if that's the result of years of effort.


    I'm not debating anything just talking … trying to sort out how I view this shit myself, hence the quotes and question marks. I'm not a fan of clumping tropes and clichés together. A trope, to me (cause I'm no expert I'd rather not state IMO because its a given) is something you can't really escape (if it's to mean, because it seems to have shifted from just another word for cliché to including archetypes and maybe I should just say archetypes) -- a cliché expression/reaction is something you mostly can. A cliché within a trope/archetype is harder to escape due to expectations with a reader and a genre - especially a subgenre. For instance romances can have clichés/archetypes but they're easier to avoid when you're writing a romance not a subset. They collect more in subset/niche genre -- meaning not just a romance but a - gothic romance, bodice rippers, sex & business beach reads because the writer gets trapped in narrower formats. For instance in a gothic romance the hero is 99% female and single and usually an orphan. She goes to a spooky house, gets involved in a mystery, several attempts are made on her life and she winds up with said house. You can't avoid being unpredictable because your format in and of itself is predictable.

    How she responds -- the words and phrases she uses those are where I find the battleground of clichés & archetypes.To me if you're writing in a narrow genre where it's up to you to stand out by your words and choices -- raining like cats and dogs -- isn't going to cut it.

    But of course I can contradict what I say by pointing out that hundreds of thousands of gothic romances were published -- yeah, but even by playing against my rules there were probably hundreds of thousands not published.
     
  24. Bone2pick

    Bone2pick Active Member

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    So, basically idioms? That's your definition of narrative cliches? Well, I would disagree that idioms cease to have meaning anymore—that's just you attempting to universalize your preference. But more importantly, the original poster's video is about narrative cliches, like a child pickpocket, not turns of phrase.
     
  25. Thundair

    Thundair Senior Member

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    I would avoid trite and cliche statements in the narrative but I think you would lose the voice of your character if they were removed from dialog.
    For instance I have a hard edge FBI agent in my new WIP and he will say things like "That's a lot of bull shit." I guess I could change it to, "Male bovine excrement." but to me it just doesn't sound the same.
    Another one of my characters will say things like "It is what it is." I can't imagine how I could change that and get the same meaning.
     

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