Clichés in fiction can be unoriginal phrases, obvious plot points, or unsurprising ‘twists’, inducing groans and eye-rolls from the reader and sometimes blighting an otherwise good book.
Each genre in fiction has its own specific clichés that are commonly used but best avoided by writers. For example: in high fantasy a common trope is ‘orphaned child grows up to learn of their higher purpose and defeat a great evil’ (think Harry Potter). Even a classic but over-used trope in fiction can eventually become unoriginal and dull, and considered a cliché.
But is this necessarily a bad thing?
As much as readers groan at clichés in fiction, there must be a reason they have worked over and over again. Where romance novels are concerned, the reader often seeks out a clichéd ‘boy-meets-girl’ plot and a classic ‘happily ever after’ ending, perhaps seeking comfort from something predictable and sweet. Young Adult novels usually involve an ‘ordinary teenager’ who is thrust into a world of myth or magic, discovering a strength/ability/destiny they knew never had, and so on, and they prove popular the world over.
People claim to hate clichés but it seems to be more of a love-hate relationship, according to Twitter.
me: omg i hate clichés— babel 🌷 (@babelstrudel) 9 September 2019
author: this couple forgets about each other but, even without their memories, manages to fall in love with each other again
me:*sobs* omg this couple forgets about each other but, even without their memories, manages to fall in love with each other again
ME: i hate clichés— Marissa Lenti #MozeGang (@MarissaLenti) 7 September 2019
AUTHOR: but it turns out they were actually attractive behind the mask the whole time
ME: ohmygod they were actually attractive behind the mask the whole time
Me: I hate cliches— Kenzie (@Ken_2AA) 10 September 2019
Main character: [chooses a potentially painful reality over an idealistic dream world where nothing has true value]
Me, sobbing uncontrollably: He chose reality over a fake dream world oh my god
me: i hate clichés— priki (@shaiical_) 4 September 2019
author: he's been in love with his best friend all along but never had the courage to say it for the sake of their friendship
me: omg he's been in love with his best friend all along but never had the courage to say it for the sake of their friendship 🤧💔
Me: I hate clichés— Fire-Breathing Bitch-Queen (@GorgeousNeerd) 6 September 2019
Author: she stumbled back and tripped over her own two feet. He caught her by the waist and brought them flush together.
Me: FUCK, she stumbled back and tripped over her own two feet. He caught her by the waist and brought them flush together. 😍😍
Me: Ugh! I hate cliches!— GoldenVendetta (@AlexanderDiamo9) 6 September 2019
Fic: *does something bold and original and unexpected*
Me: OMG WAIT I’M OUT OF MY ELEMENT GIVE ME BACK MY CLICHES I’M SKERD 😱
me: i hate cliches— crowley's emotional support (@thcndercrck) 8 September 2019
character: is broken, got hurt badly, has trust issues, angry issues, anti-hero, deep down used to be a sweetheart, antagonist of the movie
me: ah fuck the character is broken, got hurt badly, has- pic.twitter.com/AzcAiXwxMa
me: i hate clichés :/— mady (@fishjello) 4 September 2019
fantasy writers: the rock they stood on was actually the head of a giant creature
me: omg the rock they stood on was actually the head of a giant creature
Me: I hate cliches— mango @ spare claudeleth (@crxstofrxegan) 4 September 2019
Writer: Icy cold girl is actually really soft and feminine
Me, crying: ICY COLD GIRL IS ACTUALLY REALLY SOFT AND FEMININE,,,,,,,
Me: I hate cliches— Elliot| Pinned 📌| R + E |James/Bill love bot (@reddiespagheti) 5 September 2019
Author: they're superheros and clueless to their crushes on each other irl but as heroes they flirt and dont know each other's identities
Me: oh my God they're superheros and clueless to their crushes on each other irl but as heroes they flirt and dont kno