Are you working on a new novel, short story or flash fiction? Stop right there! Take a minute to sit down and read this list, because there are some writing cliches we need to talk about, and we would appreciate it if you tune in. Any avid reader will be familiar with at least a few of these cliches, and while we know your next written piece is going to be amazing no matter what, here are some of the most common writing faux pas to avoid, because they make no sense.
Happily Ever After
Do you constantly find yourself ending your stories with your main character riding away into the sunset (or something to that extent)? Even though we all crave a happy ending, everyone and their grandma have written one, and quite frankly, it’s getting boring.
This isn’t to say that you should add in unnecessary drama or that you need to write a completely soul-sucking, depressing ending to your stories. However, a complete happily ever after almost never happens in the real world. You can have things end well for your characters without going completely overboard. Nothing ends perfectly, and your story shouldn’t either.
Killing Characters Simply for Drama
There far too many books and short stories out there in which characters are killed off in a manner that makes me think to myself why did this even have to happen?
It’s obvious when an author does something just for shock value, and because of this, it takes away from how dramatic and heartbreaking it should be to lose a character. Readers are smart and they can tell when you are just using an easy way to get to their emotions, and it won’t work the way you want it to.
Being too Obvious About Foreshadowing
It is called foreshadowing for a reason- you aren’t supposed to be able to tell it’s foreshadowing unless you’re great at piecing things together, or until it clicks later on in the book.
Using phrases like “little did they know” or anything else that is a clear look into the character’s future is giving the mystery away, and isn’t giving enough credit to the reader. Readers are smart and can figure a lot of things out with tiny clues, not huge giveaways.
Making Love the Main Plot Line
Everyone needs a good romance once in awhile, but the best stories are the ones that incorporate romance into the plot, not ones that make love the only plot.
When there is something big going on with your MC, whether it’s being in the middle of a war, dealing with a death in the family, or anything else that your story entails, love shouldn’t be the first and most pressing thing on their mind, because it never happens like that in the real world.
Making the Villain Evil for the Sake of Being Evil
Everyone has their own story, even the villain. If you don’t give your antagonist a backstory or a clear reason for being the villain, they are going to lack depth and be way less interesting.
If you give the villain a clear reason for being the way they are, even if it is a reason that may not be completely understandable to the MC or the reader, the reader can connect with them more and realize their thought process. This works especially well if the reader can empathize with the villain and have to deal with those conflicting feelings.
Making the Hero/Heroine Perfect
Nobody is perfect, even the hero of the story. Every character should have flaws and struggles, it’s what makes them so interesting. If your hero/heroine doesn’t have flaws, then it makes their accomplishments far less meaningful and exciting.
Whether their flaws are on the smaller side, like liking the wrong guy/girl or being too vain, or on the larger side like having unignorable moral imperfections, adding flaws to your characters make them much more realistic, and it will be even more rewarding when they achieve their goals. Or, at least it will make sense then there is a great tragedy.
While no writer can truly escape every cliche out there (and let’s face it, who doesn’t like a good cliche once in awhile?), this list of writing cliches can help you hone in on your writing and make your work even more unique and personal to you. We hope this helps you on your way to creating your next masterpiece! Happy writing.