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Post Reply How do you avoid cliches when writing?
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 12/9/15
Let me know if a thread like this one exist or not.
Thanks a bunches.

Explain your opinion in great detail.

When writing a short story or novel, how do you avoid using clichés? How do you show your writing rather than tell it?
Enjoy!!!
Sogno- 
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Posted 12/9/15
i dont avoid them, i embrace them

the trick is to write them in a way that it almost doesn't seem like they are cliche .
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20 / M / Great White North
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Posted 12/9/15
I don't write much but have had to because I'm in a film program for school. What I've learned is that its hard to write around cliches because it's what you know. Cliches are cliches because everyone knows them (I'm assuming you already know this shit). The way I try to get around it is if you feel its cliche try to twist it a bit. Adding a suspense or surprise element to the story helps. For example, your cliche say is opening a mirror to get a toothbrush or some meds and closing it having something/someone appear behind your main character, very typical, done to death. So by either adding some surprise say the person behind the main character doesn't show up when they close the mirror, giving people some time to relax before surprising them with a later reveal of a person when its not expected. Another way is to use suspense by lengthening the time it takes to get to an expected outcome i.e. having the person show up when the mirror is closed. Make it seem like there is going to be someone there because its a cliche and everyone is expecting it and either decide to reveal it or don't. Use suspense to either fulfill the audiences expectation or leave them wanting more when you don't.

Hope this helps, hope it makes sense.

Cheers,
Eric
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 12/9/15

Sogno- wrote:

i dont avoid them, i embrace them

the trick is to write them in a way that it almost doesn't seem like they are cliche .


How do I do that?
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24 / M
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Posted 12/9/15
When plotting out my novel, I originally set out with the goal of averting all cliches. I wrote things simply to be contradictory to expectations and essentially flip the cliches around in the hope that this would create an interesting story. When I actually started writing, I found that this goal was impossible (at least for me). No matter what you do, some cliches will become incorporated into your story and this isn't a problem. You need to pick what cliches to accept and what to change (and a mixture of the two will keep readers on their toes).

I think the key is simply making a fully realized story. I've written over 65000 words of my novel and there have only been a few times where I actually had to really think about how to make something work. I just built up the skeleton and let my characters and setting do the rest. If it feels like it belongs in the story, it wont matter whether or not it is cliche (if you have an interesting outline).
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27 / M
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Posted 12/9/15 , edited 12/9/15
By thinking about the writing. Like really thinking about it. Don't use the first or second comparison that comes to mind. Use the fifth or sixth one or something even deeper than that.

Cliches really weaken your writing. The fact of the matter is that something that a reader has seen several times before and expects to see again is not going to have an impact. I think what makes stuff like novels and poems interesting is unexpected and unconventional connections between things one would not normally think would be connected.

It's neat when there are a lot of unconventional connections being made that tie into one central theme, like water or light.
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24 / M / Deep 13
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Posted 12/9/15
Just write the cliches, and then point them out and make fun of them. Then it's no longer a cliche, its a parody!

Alternatively, you could just set up the cliche, and then take it in a completely different direction. For example, you have a scene where someone is sneaking up to your distracted heroine. The music is suspenseful, he keeps getting closer, his hand reaches up to her shoulder and then suddenly! She turns around and says, "I know it's you Todd. Quit sneaking up on me like your some horror movie killer."
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 12/9/15
Thanks guys.
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22 / M
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Posted 12/9/15

CrowFRodriguez wrote:

Just write the cliches, and then point them out and make fun of them. Then it's no longer a cliche, its a parody!

Alternatively, you could just set up the cliche, and then take it in a completely different direction. For example, you have a scene where someone is sneaking up to your distracted heroine. The music is suspenseful, he keeps getting closer, his hand reaches up to her shoulder and then suddenly! She turns around and says, "I know it's you Todd. Quit sneaking up on me like your some horror movie killer."


Also known as lampshading, in TV Tropes lingo. Do note that this isn't a panacea for cliché problems, since you'll still be using them in the first place. After, it's basically making fun of your own writing, and overdoing it will turn calling yourself a bad writer into a self-fulfilling prophecy.
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17 / M / some town in Nort...
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Posted 12/9/15
If a character is somewhat cliched, then character can still be made unique by the way the story or setting develops them. Or just make the cliche less annoying, a lot of tsunderes can be fixed by just making them less annoying to listen to. Make your characters likeable. If you have a tsundere, maybe give them a backstory that shows why they act aloof and aggressive while still trying to stay connected to the central theme. Or maybe even having that character gradually develop a certain personality throughout the series. That'd be kinda unique. I personally like Asuka from Evangelion because of how determined she remained to keep on living. Meanwhile people saw that this character was popular and created the cliched tsundere while leaving out what made her unique in the first place. I guess what makes writing hard is connecting all of the stuff to one central point that you're trying to make (being funny or just simply entertaining counts as a point) while still trying to create realistic characters who act like real people.


I'm still somewhat new to writing, but i hoped this helped
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26 / M / Your friendly nei...
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Posted 12/9/15
Try being original.... I heard it works well.
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Posted 12/9/15
Use a different perspective.

I don't see things like "Pedro Pan" a creative piece, at first. But I might as well check things out.
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Posted 12/9/15
My method is to cling to reality. a good rule of thumb is to think to yourself, would a real person act like this? would this really happen? cliches nearly always fail that test. this is not to say "magic isn't real, so you can't have that in your story." it's more like saying "would the hero and the villain really exchange a dozen dramatic sentences in the midst of a swordfight?" When Harem Guy runs quite literally into Tsundere Harem Girl #1 for the first time, is he really uncoordinated enough to land with both hands on her breasts? No, Harem Writer just wants you to think WOWBOOBZ because that slight feeling of sexual arousal that it gives you is how he gets paid.

Looking at the horror movie killer trope, rarely will an actual serial killer seek to scare the victim before she is under his power. typically the killer (almost always a man) will lull the victim (almost always a woman or child) into a false sense of security, before abducting/murdering her when she least expects it.

Ted Bundy pretended to be disabled, Gary Ridgway would show victims pictures of his children, John Wayne Gacy wore a police uniform or offered his young victims jobs. Think about it- if you were going to kill someone and try to get away with it, would you really put the person on high alert by scaring the crap out of them before you murdered them? If you did, they'd be a lot harder to kill/subdue. Real murder isn't very entertaining...

The point of the "mirror scare" and other slasher tropes is to scare the audience. Scare the protagonists, and you scare the audience. The audience gets to feel the exhilaration of fear while simultaneously holding on to the knowledge that they are actually safe on the couch. People pay you to feel that way.

The problem with these tropes (cliches) is that they're a cheap thrill. It depends on what you're going for. There's nothing wrong with cliches if you're trying to entertain your audience. Movies/tv/anime have distilled these tropes into a science, and people keep watching/reading the same stories over and over again with slight variations, because they like the feeling they get. Sitcoms generally make you feel comfortable and smarter than the characters, anime is typically a power fantasy of some sort, comedies make you laugh, etc. etc. But if you want to inspire your audience with more than a temporary feeling, you have to reach deeper than cliches. Try using the way you look at the world to influence your writing, and you'll find yourself developing your own voice as well as story that is more than just recycled material. There's a unique thing about you, something that you really like, or are really good at, or think a lot about. Apply how you look at that thing to the story you're writing.

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68 / M / Columbia, MO
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Posted 12/9/15
I've found suicide to be the best remedy. Trouble is, there are no second chances if this self-imposed activity is successful. If chosen, it's best to leave no notes for the finder as Mystery leaves a more resonating ring versus Finality.
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25 / F / New Jersey, USA
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Posted 12/10/15

thekevin4 wrote:

Try being original.... I heard it works well.


Easier said than done.
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