Cliches to Avoid Part One – Our Write Side

February 9, 2016February 8, 2016

Clichés are everywhere in the story world, but that doesn’t mean you should rely on them in your stories. Instead educate yourself on what’s been overdone so you can avoid those pitfalls in your WiP or turn those clichés on their head and use them in an original and fresh way. So let’s go over some clichés.

The love triangle. This has become the standard issue of books these days, but how common are they in real life? Not very. And many readers find them frustrating because it’s obvious who will end up together at the end. You can add complexities and obstacles for your main character and their love interest without a love triangle.

The chosen one. Out of billions of people on Earth, only this one character can save the universe. There’s nothing inherently special about them, or alternately everything about them is special, and they feel like they’re just a normal person so how can they save the world? This goes double if there’s a prophecy about them. Have your character come to the rescue by the virtue of his own abilities and strength of character, not because of what someone predicted a thousand years ago.

The orphan or abused ward. This is closely related to the chosen one trope. Often in Young Adult stories the protagonist is an orphan or is raised by despicable relatives who hate the protagonist and couldn’t care about what shenanigans they get up to. It’s often so the protagonist can go on adventures and be put in harm’s way. Or to add a troubled past or wound for the character, but this is becoming far too common. Don’t rely on this cliché to develop the character of your protagonist or to get rid of parental authorities in their life. Get creative about parental units.

The brooding bad boy. Gorgeous and with a troubled past that’s left him so scarred he’s always rude, irritable, cynical, and a bit of a jerk (or a lot of one). But the heroine is inexplicably drawn to him despite the fact that he’s no good for her. This type of love interest has been overdone and burned out. Wouldn’t a less shallow character make a better (and more believable) love interest?

The insecure beauty. Everyone knows she’s beautiful except herself. And she is often confident about herself in every other way but when it comes to her looks. Please stop writing this. Your character’s confidence shouldn’t depend upon the opinions of others. And plenty of confident women and girls are not insecure about their looks. Your protagonist doesn’t need to hear she is beautiful from a man in her life before she believes it.

viveksonkar19n / Pixabay

And instant love. Your main character sees him across the room and it’s like she was struck by lightning. There’s no one in the world for her but him. They’re in love and they’d do anything to be together even though they’ve only known of the other’s existence for two minutes. Disingenuous much? Also it’s just not that realistic.

These are just a few clichés to avoid in your writing. Next week we’ll cover some more. For more writing tips, visit me at and follow @hijinkswriter on Twitter. Comment your least favorite clichés below and happy writing.