Story clichés I'm tired of

Reads: 745  | Likes: 8  | Shelves: 1  | Comments: 7

Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic


Right off the bat:
1- Do you ever feel like the plot to most love stories is redundant? That's because the majority of fictional romances happen like this: A and B meet, they fall in love, something gets shitty, they argue and separate, and then they get back together at the end. If you want your romance to be memorable, for the love of André Aciman break out of this mold. It's overused. 
2- If you're writing an erotic scene, don't go for "cock" or "dick" and definitely not "pussy". It's distasteful.
2- Create villains that are less caricaturistic and more human, with complex personalities and, yes, positive traits. Don't be afraid of messing with your reader's brain. Make it difficult for them to pick a side. 
3- On that note, your main character doesn't have to be a just, brave, beautiful individual that poets sing songs about. They don't always have to do the right thing, they don't always have to know what to say, and sometimes they might not deserve good things to come their way. Let them make bad decisions and be awkward and mess things up. Make them stingy or a little too indulgent. Make them clumsy. Let them have an affair. It's okay if the reader will find them annoying at times, as long as you give them something to stay for.
4- If your character description starts off with "[character] wasn't like other girls": stop. Rewrite that shit. Unless your main girl is a professional sword-swallower, has purple skin with a tail, or sells voodoo dolls for a living, chances are she's a lot "like other girls". If you're using this phrase to emphasize that the main character isn't girly (or hates girly things), consider that femininity isn't bad and a strong heroine doesn't have to be masculine. She can rock everyone's shit and still be on time for her pedicure.
5- Don't describe your character in one block of text. Treat descriptions like salt and sprinkle all over the story. Is the character getting ready to go somewhere? Say that their black locks are always tangled when they're in a hurry. Are they picking out an outfit for that particular event? Mention that they always choose this color because it matches their olive complexion. 
6- Now that we're talking about descriptions, PLEASE branch out! I've read so many stories about petite women and tall, strong men with a jawline sharper than a kitchen knife. Believe it or not, dear reader and potential writer, there are many body types and if Helia with the flowy auburn hair is the nth petite character I've read about, chances are I'll be sick of her from the minute you described her dainty little frame. Write about a chubby character, or a small, thin man. Write about a woman who's 6ft tall or has wide shoulders and a smaller waistline; she'll look like a superhero, I promise
7- Speaking of petite female characters, petite is French for smallWhich means your main girl should have A or B cups at best. If she's short and has DD cup breasts, you're describing an apple or an hourglass figure, not a petite one.
8- Give your character physical imperfections; a gap between the two front teeth, acne, a crooked nose, a scar... It can make them more likable. If your MC looks like Hercules, or Venus, or Hermaphroditus, I'm sure they're very attractive but again, it's boring.
9- Don't expose everything your character is thinking or feeling. Let the readers analyze for themselves every once in a while. That's the beauty of reading. 
10- Watch out for any contradictions in your character's personality. If they're timid, they probably won't be blurting out witty remarks or the life of the party. 
11- Mental illnesses are not adjectives, and they're not meant for romanticizing either. Your character with social anxiety isn't a "shy" person. They won't meet someone that will "bring them out of their shell". Your depressed character won't heal after a journey of self-discovery or a whirlwind romance. I know this sucks but... people with mental illnesses don't just stop having them. It can take years upon years for someone to heal, and sometimes it never truly goes away.
Oh, and psychotic people aren't your token serial killers, and if a character isn't friendly it doesn't make them antisocial
12- Fetishes aren't always dirty or the result of a "troubled past". In other words, Christian Grey's assholery and abusive childhood shouldn't have been used to explain his BDSM fetish.
This is all I can think of for now. Let me know if you'd like a part two. 

Submitted: March 23, 2019

© Copyright 2023 Christy Writes. All rights reserved.

Add Your Comments:



I thought they were useful and vote for part 2.

A top irritation for me: text which meanders on like the author has no idea about plot tension, or indeed about where their story might be going anyway.

Sat, March 23rd, 2019 4:26pm


Thank you for giving it a read! And that bothers me too, you just want them to cut to the chase lol.

Sat, March 23rd, 2019 9:44am


This was excellent, Christy, and so true. I'd love to see a Part two, and three...maybe even four!

Sat, March 23rd, 2019 8:38pm


Four parts... I'll have to read a lot more books then! I'm glad you liked this essay. c:

Sat, March 23rd, 2019 1:55pm


As for 11, I think that the main character with social anxiety could say that he/ she is a "shy" person in front of others. That's not always cliché. Also, I don't know what is this often in English books, but in Russian, I saw a story where is the very depressed woman became a good mother and a lover. In Russia, we recall Konstantin Stanislavski's words (the theatrical director in the Russian Empire) that he said in front of a beginning actor: "I don't believe". I think that is a good story where is "we believe" in it, and we "don't believe" in redundant stories. In Russia, almost everybody well-educated people knew Stanislavsky's words, that's even not actors in life (I am, actually, not, for example).

Sun, March 24th, 2019 12:57am


That could happen in some cases, but I was talking about authors who confuse shyness with social anxiety disorder. Shyness is a normal emotion and in most cases it's not severe, but feeling so anxious and uncomfortable around people that it stops you from enjoying your life and participating in activities others do is an entirely different ordeal. That's more or less how social anxiety is like.
It's totally possible for people with depression to be good parents and do well in many aspects of their life. Not all cases of depression are alike, and symptoms vary from one person to another. The thing is that depression is an illness, and you can accomplish many great things but still be depressed.
I do agree with this sentiment. You must believe in a story or in someone in order to appreciate them. Thank you for reading, Roman! :)

Sun, March 24th, 2019 8:49am

Keke Serene

I agree with all of these lol. Show don't tell and and diversity in not only cultures but body shapes and sizes is something literature really needs to work on. xD I'll come back to this- its bedtime!

Sun, March 24th, 2019 3:38am


Thanks for taking the time to read, lovely!

Sun, March 24th, 2019 11:47am

Jeff Bezaire

You make very good points, Christy. Although, I do have to admit, of the limited amount of erotica I've read, they usually use technical terms instead of 'cock' and 'pussy'. The romance cliches are so terribly overdone. Most writers still cling to the Hollywood romance tropes instead of using a real slice of life scenario; people seem to be afraid of writing a messy romance story - they want everything neatly packaged when it doesn't actually work that way.
Human villains make the best villains. Even some anti-heroes can do such questionable things that you wonder if they are actually a villain. It's great to feel that conflict of wanting to cheer for a scumbag or support a good-hearted character who does a seriously morally ambiguous deed. There's always a reason for our behaviour and opinions, not always a good one, but the factors that mould us into who we are will always make for a more interesting character in a story. There are ancient heroes who were more likely tyrannical dictators in their time, or although they might've been good people, their actions certainly did not inspire in their time the greatness that we remember them for now. But there's always a reason for what they did and how they saw the world.
I hate the description dumps, whether it's for a character or a setting. Your analogy is good: treat it like salt and sprinkle it in. Diversity makes things more interesting, be it height, weight, physical characteristics; the world is not composed of skinny people of varying heights. It's difficult to be inclusive with all the "skinny" media shoved in our faces, but vanilla characters tend to make for vanilla stories. It's one of the wonderful things of writers from all over the world sharing their stories - we glimpse different cultures, different insights and different stories that we wouldn't otherwise think of or learn about.
Number 9 and 10 are difficult to look out for, but definitely necessary for a good story. In the first draft of the novel I'm working on, I over-explained a crap-tonne! It's difficult to detach from the story and grasp what a reader will pick up on, but that's where having people read the story comes in handy, as well as taking a leap of faith with the reader. Over-explaining is a problem with many amateur writers, I think. I still sometimes get too indulgent with the explanatory details. Less is more as they say! It's more fun for the reader to work things out on their own, and there are some things that are simply easy to grasp with a couple of choice words. Contradictory character action is tough to nip too - it's hard to fully know a character, even if you've fleshed them out before writing a story since they can always evolve and change, and sometimes adapt to the situation too. Number 9 and 10 are two reasons why editing is so very important.
I think you did a great job on this essay and should definitely do another! :) At least one more! :D

Mon, March 25th, 2019 6:18pm


Then you must've stayed away from some fanfictions or BooksieSilk stories lol. I haven't been there that many times but I've stumbled upon some uh... not so appealing descriptions.
I agree with your take on romantic stories. Plus, some of them romanticize really unhealthy expectations about love, like your partner "completing" you or not being able to live without them, or how it's always supposed to feel right with that special someone... I could go on but there's way too many to list.
I also recently realized how little I leave for my readers to figure out, so I'm working on it. We all have to start making mistakes like these and then we work our way up. :)
What's also tricky is making sure the mental image you have of your character matches who they are in the story. You could forget to include crucial details about your character's past or personality in the story because you think you already did, whereas it's just in your head. I think writing the first draft, and then coming back to edit it after some time has passed really helps detach you from the writing atmosphere and read the story more objectively. That way the editing is more thorough.
Thank you for reading, Jeff! :)

Fri, March 29th, 2019 1:46pm

Melancholic Wisdom

Firstly I'd like to say that I am all on board for a part 2 :D I do agree with what you've said overall, essentially it's all about branching out and trying out something new or putting a different spin on something, rather than falling into a trap of the tried and true method. Nice work, Christy :)

Tue, March 26th, 2019 5:30am


Thank you, Nik! :)

Fri, March 29th, 2019 1:46pm

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