Embarce The Cliché

New writers are always advised to avoid using cliches. However, cliches are good. No, really, they are. Let me explain.

bqcpj7acmaahrp4A cliche/story trope is a short-hand way of saying something to your readers. A cliche only works because the reader understands what it’s all about. If no one had heard of the ‘damsel in distress’ cliche before, it would be considered fresh and ‘alternative’.

Using a cliche sets reader expectations; delivering the cliche in exactly the way the reader expects, especially as a plot, is what makes it bad.

However, taking a cliche and twisting, parodying, or turning it on it’s head, (as you suggested in your question) will delight your readers, because you have done something new and unexpected: you have turned the cliche to good.

A cliche is a tool. Writers should use all the tools at their disposal to tell their story and enthral their readers. How you use the cliche, what you make of it, is what really counts, not whether you think it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

Here is a challenge for you: pick your most hated plot cliche, your most hated character cliches, put them all together and use them in unexpected ways – really mash them. The aim is to set your readers up so they think they know where the story is headed, then use the cliches to take them on a roller coaster ride in unexpected directions.

Nick

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