Cliches that make you squirm

There are a lot of budding writers here, and one problem the internet seems to think we budding writers have is the overuse of cliches. I don’t know if they are right, but I thought it would be fun to list out the number one things that we can’t stand in writing. Before we begin though, I think I should say a few quick things:

  1. Try not to call forum goers out. If you must refer to a fellow forum goers work then please keep it constructive. I don’t want this to turn into a flame war.

  2. Remember that this list concerns only the opinions of forum goers. The data may not represent the opinions of all customers, or even the majority of them. You can always do a google search for a broader opinion, but that data will also be skewed in its own way. Just food for thought.

  3. I’m not trying to call out all cliches here, and you shouldn’t think that all cliches are bad. Many are tropes and tropes are tools.

Even the some that are commonly called out can be useful. People, for example, often complain about plots where the world is at stake. While books writers should take note of this, videogame writers might want to do the opposite. While cliche and hated by hardcore gamers/critics, the average casual gamer is more than happy to enjoy a game that makes them feel powerful/important to the universe. You won’t hear them saying it because they don’t share their opinions online all day, but sales speak for themselves. So just keep an open mind, and remember that many things became cliche for a reason.

That being said, I’m looking for the cliches that make your outright flinch. The things that you need a Tylenol to read. I’ll start with one of mine:

Aesop saves the day: Every single time. Its not just that the good guys always win, its that they do it while cramming a lesson about peace and love down your throat. Your world can have rape, murder, prostitution and slavery in it, but if it can all be solved via the power of idealism then I have trouble getting interested. I consider myself an idealist, but I like to see it lose every once in a while. Idealism doesn’t always win in reality, and if you want to encourage idealism then its best to accept that. Otherwise people start thinking that ideals only win in fiction. The climax also has much more power if a happy ending isn’t guaranteed in my opinion.


Too many commas


I agree that clinches are sickening at times, the one I particularly hate is this bull crap with you young person with mysterious powers everyone seem to be graviating towards , did you know that your father is still alive . No he didn’t die in the fire years ago , he is now your arch enemy!


I don’t like when you’re “the Chosen One” and you were predestined to be so. It was cool in Star Wars, but now it’s overused.


Though it can become a source of humor later on in the story , for the viewer and the characters

I’d just like to reiterate @From_Beginnings number 3. If you’re a writer and worried about a character being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold or a plot device being Man Versus Machine, don’t be. Don’t worry about original ideas, but the delivery of those ideas. That’s where you can really put your personal touch as a writer in, and make them your own.

George R.R. Martin has a great quote on this from a recent interview:

“Ideas are cheap. I have more ideas now than I could ever write up. To my mind, it’s the execution that is all-important. I’m proud of my work, but I don’t know if I’d ever claim it’s enormously original. You look at Shakespeare, who borrowed all of his plots. In A Song of Ice and Fire, I take stuff from the Wars of the Roses and other fantasy things, and all these things work around in my head and somehow they jell into what I hope is uniquely my own.”


Elves and dwarves, gnomes and goblins, and other fantasy “races” that are all but impossible to prise out of the dead hand of Tolkien, Gygax, and their corporate successors.

Any race which is Evil and can thus be killed whenever encountered, without remorse.

An ordinary kid who discovers he’s actually the best swordsman/magician/sportsman in the world, thanks to the mentor who spots the natural potential in him.

(And Sam, because you’ve asked before why other people don’t appreciate the Star Wars prequels: imagine you’d first encountered the “Chosen One” cliche a decade or two before Phantom Menace came out).


That makes a little sense. xD

There isn’t much that bothers me implicitly. imho even the most cliche plots and character archetypes can make for an entertaining story if executed properly.

Edit: ninja’d by @MultipleChoice.


@Sneaks @MultipleChoice

I couldn’t agree more. A good writer can make nearly any cliche good. However, I do think there are some cliches that are so dangerous that its best to avoid if possible.

The “It was all just a dream” cliche can murder a good story so quickly its not even funny. It’s so hated that I think adding the words, “or was it,” to the end anything but a parody is actually punishable by law.

Another such offended would be the “bringing back a dead character” cliche. That one is so infamous that the mere concept of it could earn it a title as a super villain.

They aren’t inherintly evil, but they have to be handeled as if made of nitroglycerin. One wrong move and even the best of stories can be brought to their knees.


Tolkien perfected bringing back dead characters with Gandalf, but after that it became overused.


The worst cliche in my opinion is the harem attraction the main character usualy have. Its like everyone he want to get romanticaly or sexualy involved with will say yes with minimum efforts from his side most of the time.


There’s not much worse than, “… But it was all a dream.”

Yeah, that “dream” cliche got tired out immediately after Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. xD

The Warrior Race/Tribe/Species ™ is something that bores me to no end, mostly because they usually lack the depth of our real world counterparts.

can “boy gets girl in the end” be considered a cliche?

I mean, its in movies, many many many books, dramas etc…and most of the time there IS a kissing scene x_x idk but im kinda getting tired of that, you basically could sum up

“guy is problematic, girl comes in his life, there is conflict, he prevails, they kiss, he gets girl”

and many more

Is it bad that i secretly wish there were more M/M or F/F just so it would be a little bit different? i mean really…

but yea i just realized this was about Choice games…but STILL!

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Kinda remind me how harry potter didnt end up with hermione, wich was very great in my opinion. Yes, guy gwt girl is an old and annoying cliche. I just want a dtory without romance or if there is at least make it interesting.

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All the above including

The strong female character or Hollywood’s idea of a strong female character . you know the michelle rodriguez of female roles accompanied with them saying the line “stop acting like a girl”. Because you have to embody a man’s stereotypical traits to be seen as strong.

Makeovers! The nerdy guy or gal takes of there glasses and suddenly boom you’re hot!

Black guy dies first it’s 2014 people …this still happen! Also every race has the same role and rarely have anything outside of this for example Black/Latino = gangsters and Asian= hackers/nerd >:/

And love triangles when done right they can really help your characters development but most of the time’s it’s a cheap tactic YA books use to attract readers.

not sure if theses are cliches :)) but they do happen a lot


Not sure if this is a clichè, but it is one of my pet peeves.

Any time the story’s moral is bluntly and violently shoved into my face without any trace of subtly and tact. Don’t let your allegory be a strictly one to one affair.


Definitely. Especially if it’s like the opposite of what I actually believe.

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