Avoid These Writing Cliches & Tropes

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The Unusual Name — Cherisse, Keats, Ephiriam…Those are all names from The Museum of Heartbreak. That novel alone has enough quirky names to make my head spin. In almost every YA novel there’s at least one character with a name that’s nonsensically quirky.

The Best-Friend-Turned-Lover — A guy best friend that ends up being the right guy all along!

In a shocking turn of events the guy best friend who is loyal and sweet and has been dropping hits and flirting the whole book ends up being the perfect match for the oblivious narrator? Well, plump my lips and call me Kylie Jenner, that’s shocking!

The Non-Expert Experthttps://mythcreants.com/blog/six-unrealistic-tropes-and-how-to-avoid-them/

The Amnesia Plot — Just like soap operas, romance novels also have their fair share of amnesia plots. These are particularly popular in series romance, although they appear in other subgenres as well, from historical romances to romantic suspense. There's only one problem -- amnesia has turned up so often in romances that some readers think there's an amnesia virus on the loose in romance novels. Also, most romance novel cases of amnesia are about as unrealistic as the episode of The Addam's Family where Gomez lost his memory after being clubbed on the head.

Amnesia can be a powerful story line, and indeed, there have been some great romances with this plot. For example, Uncommon Vows by Mary Jo Putney and Until You by Judith McNaught. Before writing a book with an amnesia plot, ask yourself what the draw of this type of plot is, and then make sure you can bring that element to your story. Many readers love amnesia plots because they bring to life the fantasy of making love for the first time all over again. In romantic suspense, amnesia plots can help make the heroine's dilemma even worse. How does she know whom to trust if she can't even remember her own name?

Instant Love — You know the drill. Girl sees boy. Boy sees girl. Their eyes meet. BAM. Instant, undying passion and devotion. They would die to be together! Even though they’ve only known each other for like 5 minutes. Or one song. 

The Mirror Description — It's lazy, it's been done to death, and anyway, no one looks in a mirror and takes stock of all their features in severe detail. I would argue you don't need to belabor the description of your main character anyway. You can hit the big points—if your character's defining trait is a deformity or a hairstyle—there are ways to work that into the narrative. For the rest of if, you have to trust the reader. First that they don't need to be coddled, and second, that they'll project something onto the character.

The Chosen One — Characters can be special without being touched by the hand of fate. And anyway, if your character is the only person who can solve a given problem, does that make him/her heroic? Or just easily coerced? They have no choice but to be heroic, and that's not really heroism. Very rarely is this trope used well. Most of the time... it's not. 

Beauty Impaired — No one likes a heroine who bemoans about how hideous and repulsive she is when she’s actually gorgeous. Despite her friends and family telling her she’s beautiful, she will insist she is ugly. That is, until the Love Interest comes along and she is shocked that he is attracted to her. Suddenly she realizes she is beautiful after all! 

The Hot & Sensitive Loner Dude — The hot loner guy who never spoke to anybody and generally behaved like a jerk? Falls flat for the pretty girl who ends up discovering he is the most sensitive man EVER.

The Happily Ever After — What It Is: All of the characters in your book live happily ever, with no hardships to bear. You’ll find the hero in this ending has defeated everyone and all of the plot twists you’ve worked so hard to write have been tied up nicely—but they’re also usually tied up very unrealistically.

Why to Avoid It: Life doesn’t necessarily end happily ever after, which makes this type of ending feel disingenuous. You want your readers to feel enthralled with your book so that they’ll want to buy more from your library or even read the same book again. Real people always have troubles, so make sure that your book stays in realm of realism.

Name That Villain — The villain is actually the hero’s long-lost mother/father/sibling.

The Chance Meeting — a chance meeting, in a foreign place, with and old acquaintance who will help save the day or at least give the plot a necessary half-time push. That's where they happen - halfway. "Hello? Fancy seeing you here..."

The Man Hater — Man-hating women because of bad relationships in their past. Most irritating one I see. Like not all women hate men like that and there are other reactions to breaking up. ( being subjected to hallmark movies because of living with my grandparents). I can think of a few more but my phone is dying lol.

The Unhealthy Adonis — Lead male bad boy who drinks, smokes, and never works out, but has the body of Adonis and will always win in a fight, sporting event, or romantic conquest.

Honorable Mentions:

➔      "I let out the breath I didn't realize I'd been holding."

➔      Clenching fists until the palms bleed. Who has ever done that?


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The Yukon Writers’ Society is an encouraging, supportive group for fiction writers in Yukon, Oklahoma. They meet biweekly on Thursdays to embrace accountability, to learn more about the craft of writing, and to help group members start and finish their books. The Yukon Writers’ Society was founded in 2016 and provides free meetings for its members. Their group anthology, Shivers in the Night, was published in April 2018.