Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

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Barzini
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Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#1 Post by Barzini » Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:36 pm

I'm not sure if this is due to our consistent exposure to media or being part of the working world, but I realised that while I write, scenes from certain movies will pop up in my head and strike me that it will be a good idea - The thing is, it is really cliché and predictable and I have something against predictability in writing.

So I was just thinking, are any writers facing the same challenges?
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#2 Post by MaiMai » Sat Nov 01, 2014 12:58 pm

It's the most common challenge there is and something that writers can't really escape from due to thousands of precedents.
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#3 Post by SundownKid » Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:02 pm

Yes, definitely. But, really, it's all up to personal preference. Some people hate, despise cliches and anything that is remotely predictable is bad. Other people have no qualms about reading the umpteenth fantasy book with elves and dwarves. Some people have never read many fantasy books about elves and dwarves and such things are new and exciting to them and not cliched. There's no way to appease everyone.

Personally, though, I think cliches can be representative of real life. There are plenty of people I've seen who fall into cliche behavior or do cliche things. It's not unrealistic for a character or plot device to be cliche because people are social and history often repeats itself.
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#4 Post by SinSisters » Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:06 pm

Oh, I love this question because I've asked it so often to myself. There are loads of clichés, so many that avoiding every one is, not only intensely improbable, but it could also draw your reader away from connections that they could make with that character. For example, I know dumb blondes. Is that a stereotype/cliché? Yes. Does that make it okay to use? Yes, as long as the character is still developed.

But it also depends on what sort of clichés you're talking about. For example, a year ago, I scribbled out a writing practice full of clichés. Stuff like "my heart is beating as loud as a thousand drums" and "as rapidly as a hummingbird's wings", "quiet as a mouse". AVOID THESE AT ALL COSTS. It's lazy writing. I changed mine to "my heart is crashing against my chest like a boat being thrashed against boulders", "banging more intensely than a thousand soldiers’ stomping feet", for instance. Not my best work, but better. (I should note that idioms are different, and they're generally okay to use, especially in speech).

As for overdone situations, it's a little trickier. I tried writing a sort film noir murder mystery script, and I purposely filled it with stereotypes. A cranky, chain-smoking, gruff detective. A loyal, naive police officer. Three suspects. One is a sketchy drug dealer. Another is a frazzled mother. The third is the 'hero' (he's actually an anti-hero, so that's where I turned it away from the typical stereotypes) who discovers that the detective was the murderer and unravels the mystery. The detective, in a typical villain like way, explains the rest of his plot. Then, to mess with the audience's expectations, he kills the antihero and gets away scot-free.

It's a gamble, and my script happened to be well received.

Tl;dr, I would suggest that if you're writing something that sounds like a cliché, browse TVTropes for it. If you find it, then try to vary it from the standard course.

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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#5 Post by SundownKid » Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:51 pm

SinSisters wrote: Tl;dr, I would suggest that if you're writing something that sounds like a cliché, browse TVTropes for it. If you find it, then try to vary it from the standard course.
I would add, "if it's an overused trope". Just finding a trope on TVTropes doesn't mean it's used a lot, or a bad thing for your story.

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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#6 Post by Caveat Lector » Sat Nov 01, 2014 2:53 pm

Are cliches sometimes inevitable? Pretty much, yeah. But don't worry about it too much. What makes something original is how you execute it, so even something that might sound cliche in theory might actually be brilliant when put into practice. Cliches themselves are not bad, it's heavily relying on them to the point where you never dare to step outside the formula that's bad--using the stock formula to tell a story instead of the story to tell the story, if that makes sense.
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#7 Post by SinSisters » Sat Nov 01, 2014 3:32 pm

SundownKid wrote:
SinSisters wrote: Tl;dr, I would suggest that if you're writing something that sounds like a cliché, browse TVTropes for it. If you find it, then try to vary it from the standard course.
I would add, "if it's an overused trope". Just finding a trope on TVTropes doesn't mean it's used a lot, or a bad thing for your story.
Yes, I should have mentioned that. TVTropes itself mentions that fact in Tropes are Tools (I would advise reading it, it's helpful)

EDIT:The Princess Bride is a fun example because it makes fun of tropes without breaking the fourth wall, since's it's a story in a story. Just scroll down and you will see just how many it has!
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#8 Post by xiaomao » Sun Nov 02, 2014 12:41 am

Unless you're writing something highly experimental, you will probably use at least a few tropes in your work.

For myself, I'm highly aware of which tropes I like and which ones I hate, so I don't usually struggle with it.

If you really want to move away from predictability and tropes, I recommend taking a break from fiction and reading nonfiction instead. There is an infinite array of topics, occurrences, ideas, lives, etc, that have never been covered in fictional stories, just waiting out there for someone to notice :D
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#9 Post by Barzini » Sun Nov 02, 2014 2:31 am

I'm currently working on a visual novel set in the Second World War - So the thing is that I'm referencing history and the mentality of the people at that time along with my personality and many others whom I based the characters off.

"Ah, who would this person do? What would that person say?"

So I really agree with xiaomao - Non-fiction really helps. After all, they say that history is the best teacher there is.

TV Tropes are a first for me though, I have never looked at it in detail - Maybe I should now.
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#10 Post by Katy133 » Sat Dec 06, 2014 1:30 pm

On TVTropes, there's something known as a Subverted Trope. Basically, a subverted trope is a cliché/trope that's played around with somehow. The audience expects one thing, but then gets another.

Example: You know how in animated show, if there's a girl and boy duo, the boy will wear blue and the girl will always wear pink? Why not subvert that? Have the boy wear pink and the girl wear blue. That will make people think and the cliché/trope will become new and fresh again.

Another thing to consider with ideas is execution. You can present the same concept in many different ways.

Example: As I mentioned here, The Fairy Tale Police Department and The Wolf Among Us are both about a police department who solves crimes in a world filled with fairy tale characters. One is a animated series aimed at young children, the other is a really dark, gritty, and adult visual novel adventure game.

Sometimes, placing a plotline that is clichéd in one genre into another genre will make it feel very, very different. Shaun of the Dead is another example of this (romantic comedy mixed with zombie apocalypse).
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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#12 Post by Siedes » Sat Dec 06, 2014 10:43 pm

It's all about how you approach your story.

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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#13 Post by Enigma » Sat Dec 06, 2014 11:44 pm

To answer the threads title, no and yes. Depends on how you definie cliche, something is only cliche if it's boring or trite IMO, but if you define it the same as a trope, then no.

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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#14 Post by Pyonkotchi » Sun Dec 07, 2014 2:31 am

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Re: Writing - Are clichés sometimes inevitable?

#15 Post by Caveat Lector » Sun Dec 07, 2014 11:02 am

Pyonkotchi wrote:The Tropeless Tale
Challenge accepted!
The Tropeless Tale wrote:Mushroom. Blue. End.
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