Clichés to Avoid while Writing

Let’s come to terms with reality, readers no longer like to read stuff that has been washed, rinsed, and soaked n number of times. Readers are looking for something new to read; something that’ll enchant them and enlighten them. So, if you want to steer clear from accusations on cliché, follow some of the tips discussed below. But before that:

What is a cliché?

  • It is content that is overused over the years by writers.
  • It is anything that makes your plot, characters, and storyline predictable.
  • Cliché infects your writing and makes people doubt your skill as a writer.
  • If you’re going to write the same thing again and again in your book that has been already written by every Tom, Dick, and Harry (noticed the cliché?), probably your book will never make an impact among readers.

How can you avoid Clichés?

As a writer, you can avoid clichés in two ways, in your language and in your ideas.

In Language

Clichés in language can be easily identified and avoided. You can stay away from using all those popular phrases, idioms, similes, and metaphors and use your creativity to come up with interesting alternates. You may find them odd a bit in the beginning; but hey, didn’t the idioms sounded weird when you first learnt them as well?

Phrases like ‘Everything’s fair in love and war’, ‘Sleeping like the dead’, ‘Left no stone unturned’, ‘Dark and stormy night’, and even ‘I Love You’ are some of the overused phrases. Open up a book and you’ll find all these phrases appearing. So, if you wished you don’t want to be remembered for the wrong reasons, get creative. Right now!

Conceptual Clichés

There are some things readers least like to read; not because they are conceptually weak but because they’ve been written time and time again. Readers are tired, like really, really tired of reading similar stuff. So, if you’re writing your manuscript, do refrain from the following clichés in the storyline:

Cliché

Cliché Rating
The story in which all bad things happen to  the protagonist and in the end he or she realizes everything was a dream 9 out of 10
The typical love triangle – boy loves girl but the girl loves another boy (or a girl loves a guy but the guy falls for a different woman) and the story is about who gets who Yaaaaaawn!
The rags-to-riches storyline 8 out of 10
A murder-mystery in which the husband (or the ex) is the murderer of his wife, or vice versa 7 out of 10
A horror-fiction with the female protagonist as the ghost, trying to avenge her murderers 9 out of 10
Time-traveling hero who sets out on a venture to set things right 7 out of 10

Remedy

Moving beyond cliché is actually quite simple. When you write, if you feel you’ve read similar stuff, realise it’s a cliché. Stop right there and take an unexplored route. The ghost need not necessarily be a revenge-seeking female. Men can avenge as ghosts, too. If you find it difficult to move away from clichés in romance, treat it differently. Stories that are based on unconventional themes and plotlines spur a lot of curiosity in the market. Also, make sure your characters are not stereotypical in the way they think, respond, talk, and the environment they grow up. Remember, you don’t have to think out of the box. Just consider there’s no box!

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Aravind S

Aravind, works as a publishing mentor at Notion Press. His articles help aspiring writers realize their dream of becoming a published author. He has several years of experience in the publishing industry and has researched on digital media and the future of print-publishing. He is an active mentor for a community of writers to educate and guide them toward writing a book that sells.

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