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What cliché’s do you dislike?

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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby AK_Brickster » Tue Jul 23, 2013 4:41 pm

Here's one that drives me crazy in popular action movies - Two hugely muscle-bound dudes get into a brawl (see Vin Diesel vs The Rock) and they are just pummeling each other. Smashing through walls, crashing through windows, getting punched repeatedly in the face, etc.

The next scene, both are walking without limps, and neither one of them has any sort of facial swelling, or bruises to any part of their bodies. I mean, I know these guys are tough, but their skin isn't titanium, for crying out loud.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Karalora » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:27 pm

For me, it's certain character types that get overused:

* The naive farmboy who turns out to be the heir to the kingdom.
* The hot-tempered girl who is skilled and confident but nonetheless keeps getting endangered so Farmboy can rescue her and they can fall in love.
* The wise old eccentric wizard who knows what's going on but won't just tell anyone despite the trouble it would save.
* The good young king being led astray by his evil counselor.
* The evil king secretly being controlled by the Dark Lord.
* The Dark Lord who has no motivation for what he does besides lol!evil.
* The sexy female lieutenant of the Dark Lord who dresses like a dominatrix, tries to seduce Farmboy, was actually in love with the Dark Lord all along, turns good at the last minute, and gets killed for it.
* The sexy sorceress who is implied to have vast magical powers but seems to use them for only two things: 1) keeping herself young and beautiful forever, and 2) seducing heroes. (Bonus points if her magic fails toward the end of the scene where she appears, revealing that in reality she's--EEEEEWWWW!!!!--old!)
* The grizzled old veteran of The Last War, who has a heart of gold underneath it all.
* The haughty member of the nobility who insists upon joining the party and fancies themself the leader but is useless at everything (can be male or female).

I could keep going like this all day.

Has anyone else read Diana Wynne Jones's "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland"? It's all about fantasy cliches.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby ottoatm » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:48 pm

These last two comments are awesome and brought a smile to my face... all are spot on!

I'm actually going to bookmark and keep in mind for future writing I do! :)
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Ferretclaw » Tue Jul 23, 2013 5:55 pm

Karalora wrote:For me, it's certain character types that get overused:

* The naive farmboy who turns out to be the heir to the kingdom.
* The hot-tempered girl who is skilled and confident but nonetheless keeps getting endangered so Farmboy can rescue her and they can fall in love.
* The wise old eccentric wizard who knows what's going on but won't just tell anyone despite the trouble it would save.
* The good young king being led astray by his evil counselor.
* The evil king secretly being controlled by the Dark Lord.
* The Dark Lord who has no motivation for what he does besides lol!evil.
* The sexy female lieutenant of the Dark Lord who dresses like a dominatrix, tries to seduce Farmboy, was actually in love with the Dark Lord all along, turns good at the last minute, and gets killed for it.
* The sexy sorceress who is implied to have vast magical powers but seems to use them for only two things: 1) keeping herself young and beautiful forever, and 2) seducing heroes. (Bonus points if her magic fails toward the end of the scene where she appears, revealing that in reality she's--EEEEEWWWW!!!!--old!)
* The grizzled old veteran of The Last War, who has a heart of gold underneath it all.
* The haughty member of the nobility who insists upon joining the party and fancies themself the leader but is useless at everything (can be male or female).

I could keep going like this all day.

Has anyone else read Diana Wynne Jones's "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland"? It's all about fantasy cliches.


This. So true, but if you have ever tried writing, it is extremely difficult to avoid all these. There are a few more too... But another thing is that the farm boy is always raised by his uncle, not his parents. It's like, his parents both die, but the rest of the story proceeds without a single main character death... Lame.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Albatross_Viking » Tue Jul 23, 2013 7:04 pm

I really liked that list, Kara. Agree with all of those, along with multiple other ones posted here. Absoltuely yours too, Ferretclaw. The whole "main character has no parents" just often ends up as a too easy piece of motivation to begin the plot -and- give the hero a decent reason to fight the big bad without further explanation.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Karalora » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:24 pm

Not only are the protagonist's parents nearly always dead, but the death was always from one of two causes: some nonspecific "plague" that swept through the village about ten years prior to the start of the book, or murder at the hands of the villain or his minions. I'm rather jaded toward this plot point not only because it's so common, but because it's an authorial cheat--if the protagonist doesn't have any family (notice how often the uncle who raised him also gets killed early in the novel?), then there's no need to worry about how that family is doing while the kid is off having an adventure that takes anywhere from three to nine books to resolve. There's no angst about "What if I'm needed on the farm?" because the farm got burned down in Chapter 3.

I would love to see more fantasy heroes who quest not to avenge their dead family, but to improve life for a living one.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Ferretclaw » Thu Aug 01, 2013 9:41 pm

Karalora wrote:Not only are the protagonist's parents nearly always dead, but the death was always from one of two causes: some nonspecific "plague" that swept through the village about ten years prior to the start of the book, or murder at the hands of the villain or his minions. I'm rather jaded toward this plot point not only because it's so common, but because it's an authorial cheat--if the protagonist doesn't have any family (notice how often the uncle who raised him also gets killed early in the novel?), then there's no need to worry about how that family is doing while the kid is off having an adventure that takes anywhere from three to nine books to resolve. There's no angst about "What if I'm needed on the farm?" because the farm got burned down in Chapter 3.

I would love to see more fantasy heroes who quest not to avenge their dead family, but to improve life for a living one.


Yeah thats a thought...

Hrmm I am writing a story right now and this thread is proving to be pretty useful for making your book really stand out and be different so its not just retelling the same story. At the same time, it is terribly agonizing for me, because many of these things are extremely hard to avoid while still having a good tale.

I also just think its lame when there is a farm to burn down. Farms are so over rated.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Karalora » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:00 pm

Ferretclaw wrote:At the same time, it is terribly agonizing for me, because many of these things are extremely hard to avoid while still having a good tale.


So here's what you do: you start to use the cliche, but then you turn it on its head. My favorite fantasy series of all time is the Discworld series because of how well the author, Sir Terry Pratchett, does this. It plays with the "lost heir to the throne" trope by having the guy turn up and be everything the populace would hope for in a lost heir to the throne...but he's not interested in ruling. He's happier being a policeman and he probably does more good for the people that way than if he were sitting on a throne. Meanwhile, the city carries on being ruled by a black-clad dictator...who figured out a long time ago that the best way to remain in power was to make sure that things ran well and the people were happy and not oppressed, so no one would be keen to assassinate him. Any fantasy convention you can think of, Pratchett has taken it and turned it inside out into something really refreshing and often quite funny. The Discworld is built to be fundamentally absurd, but it often comes out more realistic than any Tolkien-imitator on the shelf.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Ferretclaw » Thu Aug 01, 2013 11:12 pm

Karalora wrote:
Ferretclaw wrote:At the same time, it is terribly agonizing for me, because many of these things are extremely hard to avoid while still having a good tale.


So here's what you do: you start to use the cliche, but then you turn it on its head. My favorite fantasy series of all time is the Discworld series because of how well the author, Sir Terry Pratchett, does this. It plays with the "lost heir to the throne" trope by having the guy turn up and be everything the populace would hope for in a lost heir to the throne...but he's not interested in ruling. He's happier being a policeman and he probably does more good for the people that way than if he were sitting on a throne. Meanwhile, the city carries on being ruled by a black-clad dictator...who figured out a long time ago that the best way to remain in power was to make sure that things ran well and the people were happy and not oppressed, so no one would be keen to assassinate him. Any fantasy convention you can think of, Pratchett has taken it and turned it inside out into something really refreshing and often quite funny. The Discworld is built to be fundamentally absurd, but it often comes out more realistic than any Tolkien-imitator on the shelf.


I may have to read this! Thanks for the advice. Yes, that is a good solution.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Redav » Fri Aug 02, 2013 9:07 pm

Karalora wrote:My favorite fantasy series of all time is the Discworld series because of how well the author, Sir Terry Pratchett, does this.

I've started reading this as a mate loves them. I'm currently up to Mort and I love the character Death. But yes, it messes with the clichés. The funny thing is, authors struggle to deviate from most, if not all. Somehow the most overused ones draw readers in even though plenty of us are sick of them.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby AK_Brickster » Fri Aug 02, 2013 10:48 pm

That's because being a cliche does not necessarily mean it's bad writing. In fact, it's often very compelling writing, but it is used often enough to become "cliche".
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Ferretclaw » Sat Aug 03, 2013 3:07 am

AK_Brickster wrote:That's because being a cliche does not necessarily mean it's bad writing. In fact, it's often very compelling writing, but it is used often enough to become "cliche".


Exactly. Which is also why its harder then it might seem to avoid cliches.
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Albatross_Viking » Sat Aug 03, 2013 8:58 am

To add on what AK said, I believe that good fiction in general is becoming gradually more difficult to write, simply because more and more interesting plotlines and characteristics eventually get added to the cliché list as they grow more common.
To take classics like Tolkien's work as examples, his stories include multiple parts that would IMO be seen as clichés if published today, but shouldn't really be regarded as such since they were (I assume) written before they turned into as normal a sight as they are today.
Maybe Old Norse poets would see Children of Hurin as overly clichéd with its themes of a particular family's inevitable doom through the generations, but I'm keeping my perspective more current at the moment :wink:
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby ottoatm » Sat Aug 03, 2013 3:37 pm

Albatross_Viking wrote:To add on what AK said, I believe that good fiction in general is becoming gradually more difficult to write, simply because more and more interesting plotlines and characteristics eventually get added to the cliché list as they grow more common.


This is a really good point...!
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Re: What cliché’s do you dislike?

Postby Karalora » Sat Aug 03, 2013 5:00 pm

Storytelling is a lot like building with LEGO, actually. The components are there in front of you. You can put them together any way you want. You don't have to follow the official instructions, and you don't have to use individual parts the way they were intended to be used--that "spear" could just as easily be a flagpole, a fence railing, the trunk of a sapling. You can mix and match parts of different sets. You can give a minifig a different head than the one it came with, turning it into a different character.

If you can do it with plastic bricks, you can do it with words.

Or you could keep on building the same castle as everyone else. But I know which one I'd rather read/look at.
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