Writing Hijinks- Cliches to Avoid Part Two

Writing Hijinks- Cliches to Avoid Part Two
February 16, 2016 3 Comments For Authors, Writing Advice J.K. Allen

So last week we covered some clichés that are a little too common these days, and today we’ll finish off the list (not that this is a definitive list, but rather a good start). But before we go on, I want to restate that knowing these clichés doesn’t just help you to avoid using them, but by being self-aware, you can also rework these clichés in a new and interesting way. But we have to know the problems with these pitfalls first, so let’s begin.

Mr. Tall, dark, and handsome. He’s absolutely gorgeous and perfect to boot. And not only is he perfect, he’s not interesting, not relatable, and one-dimensional. Everyone has flaws and that’s what makes us human and likeable. And most of us aren’t supermodel gorgeous so why does your love interest have to be? I’ll pick a three-dimensional character any day.

The Trophy. These characters exist just to give glory and validation to whoever wins them in the end. There’s often little relationship development between them and the main character, but he’s determined to win her and justify his ascension to the cool kid’s table. But people aren’t trophies and this weak character type offers little to the story. Opt instead for someone who has actual chemistry with the main character and is a person in their own right.

jill111 / Pixabay

jill111 / Pixabay

The Damsel. At a close second to the Trophy is the Damsel in distress. She exists solely to be in trouble and need to be rescued by the big, bad protagonist. Swoon. She’s another character that falls flat. Besides whatever sentimental value they hold for your main character, they don’t bring anything to the table as far as characterization, relationships, or plots go. Instead have the hero get in trouble and have to rescue himself. It’s already ten times more interesting.

Undefeatable Protagonist. It’s Mary Sue (Marty Stu) time. This main character is capable of anything and just plain better at everything even when there’s little to explain how or why. They can overcome anything thrown at them and that’s why they fall flat. Not only is it unrealistic, but it’s also super boring. If they can’t be defeated, then there’s no tension or conflict to your story. They’re never in any real trouble so why bother to keep reading, they’ll be just fine no matter what happens. I get it, you were trying to make your protagonist super cool, but it comes at a huge price. Instead, give them weaknesses and flaws, whether that’s a personality weakness or a character flaw or both. You need tension and conflict to have a story so make them flawed.

The Trilogy. The current market is inundated with trilogies, especially in the Young Adult department. And while trilogies are awesome (LotR anyone?) they can also be a bad choice when writers are stretching thin their plot to release as a trilogy rather than a stand-alone book or even a sequel. You have to make sure there’s enough depth and bulk to your story to be a series in the first place before you decide to write the next big trilogy. If it doesn’t make sense for your story, it is better to have a strong stand-alone book than a watered-down series lacking tension and plot. Not everything has to be a trilogy.

So what do you think about these clichés? Did I miss any big ones? Comment below and let me know what you think. In the meantime, you can visit me at hijinksblog for more writing tips or follow me @hijinkswriter[bctt tweet=”Have you considered these cliches in your own writing? You should avoid them. I’ll tell you why. #ourwriteside @OurWriteSide”] on Twitter. Happy writing!

J.K. Allen Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
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  1. 3 Comments

    Brigid Gorry-Hines

    Agreed! I’m also getting a bit tired of trilogies/series, especially when the plot isn’t enough to stretch out over multiple books. There are a lot of trilogies I love, but also so many that go downhill after the first book.

  2. 3 Comments

    Julia Allen

    Exactly what my sentiment is. Doing a trilogy has to serve your story and not just because they’re all the rage right now. Story first. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!


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