Cliches, Tropes, and Overused Ideas, Oh My!

You know them, you hate them, you’ve used them. Just a few things to avoid to improve your writing and give you new ideas.

Overly Used Adverbs
I quickly and intelligently typed this creatively thought out blog and hurriedly posted it neatly on the nicely put together and beautifully designed web site.
Boy Meets Girl
Never heard that one before. Wait, yes, yes we have. In every chick flick and in books like those by Nicholas Sparks. This is a common idea and while entertaining, it is hard to do in a new and refreshing way. Find a new idea that can present a conflict and interest your audience. Just because everyone can relate to this does not mean it should be a go to topic.
Unrequited Love
Shakespeare’s been there and done that, as have many others. Don’t be one of them. This is an instant source of conflict so many turn to it as a story idea. I’d rather read a story about two people who are happily in love but have another great source of conflict. Be creative.
Feisty Female
Why so feisty? Many protagonists,not just female, are given strong and independent personalities. In life people are not always this way and it is important to give your characters realistic traits.
The Big Misunderstanding
It’s not what it looks like! Movies and tv shows are known for doing this more than books but it is still common. This is when the entire plot is changed by a misunderstanding or missed opportunity that can often be fixed easily. If the misunderstanding is so trivial it can be fixed with a phone call or text, find a deeper conflict.
Mean Girls
Girls are mean. No, they are not all blonde or cheerleaders, nor do they need to be in every story. This is common in teen fiction but the idea of the mean girl is seen frequently. There are frequently bad guys in stories but get creative with who yours are. Throw the story for a twist and make it someone no one expected.
Dead Parent
Parents do die. Perhaps not as frequently in life as in literature. Cinderella, Jane Eyre, and Wizard Of Oz are a few examples where the main characters parents are missing. This is an instant source of conflict or drama and can add depth to your story. It has been done many times though so you should possibly look for something new.

This is nowhere near all of the cliches that are seen frequently in literature. Here are some websites to give you a better idea of how not to use cliches, and a more comprehensive list of them:


4 thoughts on “Cliches, Tropes, and Overused Ideas, Oh My!

  1. Hey! I just would like to give a huge thumbs up for the nice information you’ve gotten here on this post. I shall be coming back to your weblog for more soon.

  2. Honestly, I’d rather read a book about about a feisty or bad-ass character than a wimpy, stupid, or clingy character or a damsel in distress. But the rest of the cliches are really annoying.

    One thing you can add to your list is “the big lie.” It’s the turning point of the story. The liar feels like crap for lying and the person that was lied to either feels bad for over-reacting or they stay mad at that liar ’til the end of the movie. The lie is usually that the liar pretended to love/befriend them, but eventually does learn to love/like that other person.

    I could list a lot more cliches, but they don’t really bother me as much as the ones in your list or the turning point lie.

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