Posted in Uncategorized, writing

Character Cliches

Cliches! Also known as the traits that happen again and again and again and again in so many different stories by so many different authors it just becomes an old hat.

There are some which are just part of story telling, The hero gets the girl and good wins over evil, but when do cliches become.. too much?

Are there any which seriously need to be retired?

I say yes. So here’s a list of my least favorite character cliches and why I dislike them.

Number one and probably the biggest one, is the chosen one. Anyone who saw the prequel Star Wars knows what I’m talking about. The person (usually a guy) who’s destined to save the world and restore order and peace and what have you. This is so boring because the audience KNOWS it’s the main character of the story. NO ONE tells a story with a chosen one and then not have it about the main character. I mean, you read 300 pages and then sorry, I made a mistake, it wasn’t about me, I’ll go back home and live happily ever after now!

I hate this because it pretty much sets up exactly what’s going to happen. There isn’t any choosing on what to do, the character has to follow the prescribed plan. In this, I also hate prophecies for the same reason.

Number two and this one is a big one. I’m actually addressing it in a book of mine. Love will save you.

Alright, lemme set it up because I’ve see it before. We have a bad guy (Or girl)  and they meet the good girl (Or guy). Because the story demands it, they are to become a couple. However, the bad character doesn’t know how to love, so the good one says they will teach them.

I have a problem with this because /you can not teach anyone love./

Read that sentence again and believe it.

Don’t believe me? Can I teach you to fall in love with me? No… it might happen because we could maybe be compatible, but I can not force it and neither can you.

Follow up, even if the good guy/girl doesn’t teach the bad guy/girl how to love, they’ll teach them how to be good.

THIS IS A LOT HARDER THEN IT WOULD BE SEEN IN BOOKS.

Sorry for yelling, but I had to say it.

No one can spend years of their life being evil or bad or what have you and then suddenly change overnight. Morals and ideas can not be gained suddenly. You fall back onto what you were taught as a kid. If you were taught as a kid it’s okay to steal gum from the store and take money if you need it, your not going to forget that overnight because some cute person says they can change you.

It doesn’t work that way. Just because the love interest is cute and brooding, it doesn’t mean they can change a character’s entire morals.

Number three, the leading lady always being blonde/redhead, described as beautiful and being short.

For the longest time, a lot of female leads were blonde. Now it seems like redheads are starting to get their days. But blonde is considered the ultimate beauty.

I have a problem with this because it ties into our culture’s ideas that being good looking means you are white, blonde and thin.

No. No. No.

Being Black is beautiful. Being Asian is beautiful. Being Latino, Indian, Hispanic is beautiful! There is more to beauty then being white and having perfect pale blonde hair and pale skin.

Why Redheads I also dislike? Because that means the character is white. Too many leads are white.

Also, while I’m talking about beauty. Do. No. Call. Your. Characters. Beautiful. Or any other word which means the same thing.

I have met people who are extremely good looking and then they open their mouth and I wince. I have also met people who others think are amazingly pretty and I just shrug.

Beauty is the eye of the beholder. Do not spend paragraph after paragraph, or worse have a side character do it, and tell me amazing and pretty and gorgeous your character is.

Number four, orphans.

I know, I know. You want your character to seem like they suffered at a young age and rose about it, but come on. Why does it seem like all characters have to have dead parents? Especially being orphaned at birth, that one is even worse.

Number five, twin cliches.

I have to admit, I am extremely fascinated by twins, especially boy-girl twins. Earlier this week I was reading up about how there have been 10 cases of boy-girl identical twins. It’s /extremely/ rare and has to involve Turner syndrome (the female starts off as male, looses part of a  chromosome and then becomes female) but it has happened.

However, there are SO many cliches with twins. The first being identical twins look EXACTLY alike.

I knew identical twins in high school. When I first met them, I couldn’t tell them apart, but after a while it got really easy. They were two different people and were very similar, but had small features all their own.

Next, always calling them “The twins.” Please, for the love don’t do this. They’re two different people, not a unit. It’s okay every now and then but if you call them that ALL the time, we got issues.

The reading the whole mind thing, twin telepathy. Okay this does happen in real life, but it’s way overplayed in stories and novels. Even if they’re identical twins, stop with the thing where they can always guess what the other is thinking. Maybe sometimes, but not every other freaking minute. I mean come on.

That’s about it. I’m sure there’s more if I really thought about it, but I’m stopping here. If I don’t, I’ll probably go on all night.

Any which really annoy you guys? Leave me a comment.

-Ames

 

 

 

 

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Author:

Hi, I'm Ames! Welcome to my blog. About me Female Favorite foods: Apples, fried chicken and grilled cheese sandwiches. Hobbies: Traveling, reading, learning languages, writing and cooking. Favorite TV show: Big Bang theory. Hopes for this blog: People I don't personally know read my blog.

2 thoughts on “Character Cliches

  1. Clichés, yeah, as writers we see them all too often. We see them in print or on the silver screen.

    As far as number one goes, yep this is the way of it, but, the reader / audience identifies with the main character, and roots for this person. Often the person is the underdog in the story. People love to see the underdog triumph. Who goes a “Rocky” movie to see Rocky loose, no one, of course? They know he will win, but it’s not about the end of the story. It’s about the journey.

    Let’s suppose at the end of Harry Potter, book seven, Lord Volermort killed Harry and Ron. He also leveled Hogworts and controlled the world. Then, just for fun, he took all Hermione’s powers and forced her to marry Draco Malfoy, or worse, Dudley Dursley! The series fans would burn books one through six and be screaming to Jo Rowling’s
    head.

    In fact, a major theme of the series is killing. Everyone is rooting for Harry to kill Voldermort, not a trial or Askiban prison, just kill him. What Potter fan ever though Voldermort might win? Answer: None. Everyone loves Harry, knows he would win and went along for the ride to share in the victory ending they knew was coming.

    The chosen one is almost always a man? I cannot agree. Read Gone With the Wind or Wonder Woman. In fact, Scarlet O’Hara was a scheming, conniving slut of the first & worst order. She used anyone to get what she wanted. She married a guy of just barely legal age to make another man jealous! Doing so is top-drawer whoredom. Then she married a much older guy for his money. What a cheap, gold digger. Still, everyone cheered for her to prevail. The author / screen writer has to make the chosen one acceptable. The chosen one may have faults, phobias proclivities etc. But make him or her acceptable on a human level and the reader / audience goes with it every time.

    Love in literature and movies. Of course no one can teach another person to love or to be better. Right on its face, it’s a T-Total Freakin’ silly idea. But, a certain cable channel, we won’t mention the name (it begins with H) puts out movie after movie out with this exact theme. Writers of paperback novels for a certain company, we won’t mention the name (it begins with H too) grind out tens of thousands of novels with this theme. It’s called a formula story. It’s a niche formula for a niche audience. The cable channel / publisher supply a product for an audience chomping at the bit for more. It may be rubbish, but rubbish sells!

    Blondes, redheads and green eyes are another one. Why is it always green eyes? Why indeed! The authors / writers want to give their characters a more exotic or (by current thinking) “attractive look.” The publishers /movie companies give their target audience what they want, pure and simple. Just follow the money. This will explain why slim (or in a guy’s case buff) blonde, blue eye (and not married) is the formula for “the look” in a hit movie or book. The reader / audience want to imagine they can either identify with, or have a chance of being with the character or actor / actress.

    When the last time was anyone wrote a book or there was a movie, with the main female character: 24 years old, flat-chested, obese, frizzy brown hair, brown eyes, acne, buck teeth, and extremely flatulent? She also lives in the basement of her parents’ home, works the drive through at a fast-food restaurant, gets drunk every night and is 4 months pregnant. She’s not sure who the father is. Furthermore, she’s wanted in 3 states for credit card fraud and identity theft.

    The orphan cliché tugs at heart strings. It’s called an “emotional appeal”, which usually works.

    I have identical twins in a story, but they are completely different in temperament.

    Another cliché is the “bad boy” hero. He skirts the law; he drinks, and has a dark streak a mile long. Women love him. But they would not want to be actually married to him. They want a nice, safe, reliable husband who comes home right after work and puts his paycheck in the joint account. But they dream of the bad boy. I have a hero which is remotely bad boy, except he’s not intrinsically bad. He winds up in a bad situation and decides steps up. He doesn’t go looking for trouble, it just finds him. He ends up doing some things society would frown on.

    Now, Quinten Tarantino is one writer / director who can get away with anything he wants. But, he has his street cred locked in. Steven King is another. Take his writing “as is” or you don’t get it.

    We, as new authors (or screen writers) can write whatever we want. However, the bottom line is, the people who produce movies or publish books have a set of standards we either go by, or we starve and our work never sees the light of day. We can push the envelope, but we can’t change a system completely. When we’ve played by the rules long enough, and get our cred, then maybe…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your kind comments sir, you always comment =)

      Yes, cliches are awful and I really wish these ones would be retired. It gets really annoying to see the same things used over and over.

      Yeah, that is very true. We can write what we want, but it’s up to the publishing houses on what they want to see.

      Thanks again for all your comments!

      Like

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