Clichés That I Notice in Fiction
Updated: Sep 14
If you write prose, you should be aware to avoid clichés, such as “crystal clear” or “a piece of cake”. Readers have seen and heard those phrases so many times they had enough of it.
Instead you should change the wording, but still make it clear to your audience. For example instead of saying, “Pearly white,” another cliché, you could say “diamond white”.
Clichés can also be overdone things that happen in any form of fiction, whether written or on screen, like high-pitched singing causing a glass to break.
Here are some clichés I found through fiction, regardless of time of release, genre, or form. And these I have gotten sick of these over time.
Before you keep reading, though, here is a disclaimer: All these clichés are my own opinions.
1: A cute little girl named Susie
I have seen this so many times. At this point, I would consider Susie a default and lazy name for a cute little girl. Maybe an adult woman or teenage girl named Susie wouldn’t bother me as much. Maybe naming a little girl, Susan or Suzanne, would be fine with me, too. But Susie? Why not Michelle? Or Jessica? Or any other girl’s name?
2: White Christmases
I get that feeling that getting audiences into the Christmas spirit. Christmas falls in the winter in the northern hemisphere. And many people think snow when hearing the word, “winter”.
However, although I’ve lived in a cold climate for most of my life (Long Island, NY), I cannot recall a White Christmas during my life in my home. I don’t think I ever had one. Even before the temperatures changed in recent years, thanks to global warming, it has snowed early December and the following winter months. But never on or around Christmas.
I’m not saying stories set on or around Christmas should follow weather patterns the same as we experience in real life. But can’t there ever be a Christmas tale without snow? There is only one I can think of and that was the Christmas special for “The Wild Thornberries”.
3: Surprise Parties
Maybe back in the day, people would take little to no part in planning their own parties more often. I could be wrong about that. But today, it is common for people to want to plan their own parties. Of course, Surprise parties still happen a lot. A few of my family members had received surprise parties for anniversaries and birthdays.
However, in fiction, I have seen too many surprise parties, especially in movies and TV shows. In books, I have seen characters who were aware of their parties before they started, even if they didn’t get very involved in the planning. But unless it is absolutely crucial for a character’s party to be a surprise, I would rather they know about their bashes beforehand.
4: Fiction Schools Performing “The Wizard of Oz”
This is, perhaps, the most annoying cliché for me (no offense to anyone who really likes this). I’m not saying “The Wizard of Oz” is a bad story. It’s a fantastic classic. But too many stories, whether they were written prose, movies, or TV shows, have had their schools perform “The Wizard of Oz”. This has gone from past decades to more recent years.
Like naming a cute little girl, “Susie”, I find having that a fictional school do “The Wizard of Oz” as its play is too overdone. Why not have your fictional school perform a different show, like “Annie”, “The Sound of Music”, “Beauty and the Beast”, etc.? If you’re writing for children, I would understand avoiding schools performing shows that are too mature or inappropriate for kids, like “Anything Goes” (probably fine for Young Adult, though) or “Miss Saigon”. If you’ve already published something where the main character’s school performs “The Wizard of Oz”, that is fine. But for those who haven’t written your dream stories yet, I would suggest picking a different show. But, of course, be mindful of your target audience when selecting a play.
Everyone has a different opinion when it comes to clichés. Some enjoy them, and others feel tired of them.