Working with clichés

question
help

#1

Hi!

Yesterday, I finished a very rough draft for a short story I want to publish on my profile page. But, I realised that the story’s premise turned out basically cliché. To make sure if I wasn’t crazy, my brother read it and also found it very cliché as well.

Personnally, I don’t like clichés and I wish I can avoid it like the plague, but the story I wrote did include some and I’m afraid that I have no other choice but to find a way to work with.

I’m kinda torned about it, because I really like the ideas I brought, but the cliché kinda ruined it for me.

I know it’s only a draft, and not the final version. But I’m wonder if there is a solution to make it better and less cliché ?

Any helpful suggestions are welcome.


#2

Cliches are useful to set your audience up for something expected, providing the perfect grounds to surprise them with a twist. There’s a lot of fun to be had in the familiar if viewed from a different angle.


#3

Working with cliches and tropes is essentially what everyone does. Either on a large or a small scale. But you gotta put an original spin on it.

Say, you have the cliches of a love triangle. Two guys and one girl. The end game should be that girl chooses one of the guys right? Except they choose each other.

So find a way to spin the cliches and surprise your audience.


#4

If the plot is cliche, work on developing your characters. They can make the story interesting.


#5

Yeah, what’s your cliché?


#6

Cliches never stood in the way of a good story.


#7

Tbf, just about every story has some sort of cliche built into it. There is even a theory that there are only about 7 stories in place and all the rest are just rehashed over and over again.

That being said, cliches aren’t inherently a bad thing! I think they can be a solid base to a good story and as long as you take it and make it your own, it is just fine in my books :smile:


#8

Agreed. It’s nearly impossible to have NO cliches in a book these days.

Now, to me, the difference is if the book is one cliche after the other with no twists or if it just includes a few cliches in the book. The first I don’t like because it’s too predictable for me, but the second is nearly unavoidable.

That being said, the first can be done and be entertaining if written properly.

To the OP I’d say stop worrying about the cliches, read it over and see if you enjoy your story! If you like it, then post it. The absolute worst thing that could happen is that no one reads it. But if you’re proud of it, I’d say stop worrying and let yourself be proud of it! Show it off! :blush:


#9

Hi love, it is okay for a story to be cliche. You just gotta write what you write, be proud of your work cause you did that. You can always edit and change around sentences. You can have a cliche, but work it so that it is your story, focus on editing.


#10

That’s my issue I’m having right now. How to put a spin into a cliché that’s been done to death ?

Not to spoil anything, the basic the story I’m working right now is a scifi, set in space, and a crew is getting killed/murdered individually inside their ship. Just like Alien, right ?

The idea that I really liked and its my main motivation for writing it, is the main antagonist is, in fact, an inanimated alien object from another race, found by an archeologist, and feels threated around the humans, so to get rid of them, the entity uses psychic powers onto the crew by making their fears and phobias to life, in order to get them killed. Some of a self-defense mechanism

So, how to make it interesting ? You’re right, Danielle102. Maybe it’s a sign to me to make my characters more interesting … Thats a another issue, but I’m eager to try. :slight_smile:


#11

Uh, your plot sounds super good. Like just from that description it doesn’t sound cliche.

It sounds like a pretty classic sci-fi set-up. What you can do, is have no one survive. Even Ripley survives in Alien. That’s one way to spin the cliche.

Also, maybe try and find some really original fears and phobias? Instead of going with spiders, heights, clowns and the dark - try out other things. Like… Blood? Have blood pumping out of the character’s pores. Some have a phobia of throwing up too - so you can let them be nauseous until a point where it drives them mad and they kill themself?


#12

I think it’d also be cool to have this object not just make the fear kill themselves, but each other too! Like, maybe the MC imagines something killing everyone when they’re with them, but at the end it turns out that that had been the object manipulating the Mc’s mind and the MC is the killer. Instead of escaping or something, the MC could either kill themselves or give in to the object’s bidding at the end or something!

I do think the plot itself is very basic and a bit cliche and even the worst fears thing is a bit cliche, but it sounds very action-packed so even if you don’t put a twist on it it could still be a good and entertaining book! :blush:


#13

It depends on your story when it comes to working around it.

Honestly, everything is cliche, so everyone either has to figure out what they can do to make it not so cliche, or they have to dodge around it.

Sometimes, it can be easy to avoid it. For example: a bad boy story is cliche because the author uses stereotypes. They have a guy who rides on a motorcycle, wearing leather and is the school’s “badass.” They have a girl who wears glasses (and once she takes them off, she’s the hottest chick ever) and likes to puts her face in books. They also have the popular girl who is not only rich, but also a cheerleader and bullies people. Stories like this can instantly become uncliched by stop doing these things. In other words: make it realistic. Make the characters human. Guy doesn’t wear leather or ride on a motorcycle. He’s just known to be horrible because he’s abusive and is a drug addict, maybe he’s even in a violent gang that his brother is trying to get him in. The girl isn’t a nerd because she reads and has glasses. In fact, people don’t care about those features. Instead, she only gets straight A’s because her parents want her to get into a good college—the best of the best. And popularity in the school doesn’t exist because it’s a giant school and people don’t care about the latest gossip on who slept with who. In fact, the bully is just some low-life chick who has an abusive mother, forcing her to starve herself to get onto the cheerleading squad so her daughter isn’t a “failure.”

If you dive into a story with a mindset to change the cliche parts, you’ll make it more original.

But there is another way to go around it. And that is to simply twist the story.

A single twist may or may not work, but your best bet is to twist it in so many directions that it gives the story more depth. An example could be like a typical romance story. Girl meets guy. They fall in love. Something happens, typically a misunderstanding. They make up. The end. Most romances go this way and if you want yours to not be so cliche (a.k.a not so predictable), you might add in some other twists. Perhaps the love interest is her step-brother because her mother remarried? Maybe the love interest got kidnapped and now the main character has to go find him? Maybe something more happens?

But overall, it depends on what you’re writing to figure out how to go about it.

For your story alone, it doesn’t seem cliche to me. It seems pretty original and intriguing. :wink:


#14

Sounds like it could be an interesting and thrilling mystery, if indeed it’s a SF thriller. Still waiting for the cliche.


#15

The cliche is probably the outside force pits people against each other. Star Trek did that several times in the various stories. But it sounds like a good story.


#16

bruh it doesn’t sound cliché at all, it sounds like a super good idea tbh, but I do understand where your conflict comes from.

Give it a psychological spin. You can have one survive if you want, or two, or three, but considering this is an entity that works via psychic stuff, you can give that final spin of one survivor being stuck in their phobia, almost perpetually shaken by what they see, gone completely mad at the very end

You could not kill a single one of them but instead use the powers of the entity to trap the people in a hallucinatory like, episode, like they’re stuck seeing their worst nightmare or something, and no matter what others do, they can’t release them from that weirdly catatonic state (tbh this sound more suffocating to me than watching everyone die)

Get deep into that psychological thing going on. Idk if you’ve seen movies like Moon or Sunshine but they deal a lot with the idea of people stuck in space alone and something not welcoming to the fact that they’re humans being aboard (I’m giving these examples to steer away a little from Alien, because these aren’t exactly action, so it might help you). If this is a crew who has been left in space alone for a while, you could explore the idea of them being sick of one another, or just desperate to go back to wherever, when this situation just adds up to the complexity. The crew starts seeing things, their phobias come to life, slowly they start to lose their mind (with that age-old pacing of ‘haha John you’re NUTs there’s no spiders here!!!’ and nobody believes anyone) and just… one thing and the other come together to destroy them from within. If/how they die would be entirely up to you, but I think if you really destroy their minds bit by bit, there isn’t even a need to kill everybody, but that’s entirely up to you.

There is absolutely no need to change anything about the story imo. Cliché or not, it sounds super good. Just work the little things that make it great. If this is to be a psychological thriller of sorts, go deep into that theme. Clichés aren’t bad at all, they’re only bad when they’re not done well :slight_smile:


#17

The same here. I feel that clichés are very useful to describe something specific without boring the reader into trying a new (and possibly more complex) way of saying the same thing. How you make that cliché your own is how you end up with a great story.
I used to hate even clichés in my story, but several readers ended up complimenting them, saying how they knew that was going yet the story that followed broke those other expectations.

And truth be told, with nearly 600 years, if not more, of literature, there’s isn’t much anymore that can be called original. It’s impossible. A good 75% of a story will be familiar; it’s how the author add his own voice that turns it original.

:heart: