Backstory Cliches and Tropes: Beginners Guide to Fiction

When a writer works on their novel with inspiration, they surely think that their novel is amazing just as it is. However, there’s a possibility that editors and literature agents might think otherwise and reject this novel because it isn’t unique at all.
It’s really hard to write a unique fiction story these days: this genre has bloomed over past years and so nowadays the book market is filled with so many fiction bestsellers that are pretty much the same plot. One can read a number of books, trying to avoid the most obvious tropes, and still miss something. However, there are simpler ways to improve one’s writing: all you need to do is to learn the most popular clichés and tropes from others sources.
There is so much information about clichés on-line and it’s simply impossible to fit all of it into one article. That’s why I decided to focus on different types of clichés and tell you about them.

  • Characters.

When a writer adores their main character, they sometimes tend to over-emphasize these characters’ virtues: that’s how Mary Sues and Gary Stues appear. If you are writing about a skilled and beautiful character, who’s immediately loved and adored by everyone, you’re most likely creating another Mary Sue or Gary Stu. 
To avoid this, try making your characters more human: they need to have their flaws, enemies, and weaknesses, make their mistakes, and so on.
“A chosen one” character is another cliché you have to avoid. Though it has been used brilliantly in the past years (remember Star Wars and Harry Potter?), it is also a very common trope. 
Be careful with fantasy creatures too: if you really want to write about them, you’ll have to make them as less stereotypical as possible.

  • Relationships between characters.

Love, hate and other strong feelings have to be described very well if you want your readers to believe you. Sometimes people write about so-called “puppy love”: they make their characters blush, stutter, and act silly in front of their love interest. This can look realistic if you are writing about teenagers, but when two adults act this way, it looks ridiculous. The same goes for hate: when your character is bullied and hated without any reason, this looks weird and rarely causes sympathy.
Lack of characters’ motivation along with various “dramatic” things (like dramatic attraction, fatal desire, etc.) looks bad. Using stereotypical motivations like revenge is bad too. Try developing more deep and original motivation, explaining why your characters act this way, why they have such relationships, and so on. The readers like good justification.

  • Locations.

It isn’t forbidden to write about an old castle, a spaceship, a magic school and so on. However, you have to remember that these things were described in so many details in other fantasy pieces, and it’s quite hard to make such locations really unique. Moreover, beginner authors often make one common mistake when it comes to choosing a location: they choose a certain one but don’t do their research. 
For example, old castles are usually described as big and spooky, when in reality they are quite small. If one is writing about a spaceship but has no understanding of how does it works, this will most likely look bad. It’s always better to write about things that are already familiar to you instead of choosing a stereotypical location because you’ve seen it on some TV show, etc. 

  • Plot.

Most of the clichés are plot twists: you may think they look good, but in reality, they are predictable and boring to your readers. Moreover, some of these plot tropes actually make your fiction worse: for example, when it turns out that all story was just a dream or when everything is explained by magic.
Another popular (and boring) trope is the “Deus Ex Machina” one: when a certain character appears just to drastically change the story by doing or saying something, or solving a certain problem, etc. Though it was used often in the past, these days it has become a cliché, and when you use it, you can look like a weak writer, who’s unable to solve the novel’s conflict in a more interesting way. 
Writing is a pleasant process, but it is complex too: you have to avoid clichés, work on your style, choose the right methods to express something, and so on. I wish you good luck with that and hope that you’ll become a brilliant writer one day!


If you enjoyed this post please check out: Methods of expressive means you need to know

Written by Alice Jones

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