WS 27: Avoiding Cliche Characters

Yes, we know that the new cliche is trying to avoid a cliche, but that won’t stop us from making you think about your cliche characters. (Besides, the lack of thinking about it seems a nice cop-out) No one here is saying lazy *cough*

What Cliche do you have a tendency to draw to in your own writing (not dating)?

Disclaimer: we do get a little silly in this podcast. We all would like to take this moment to blame Lillian. Thank you.

*The prizes for last month will not be up today. Sorry.

Have a safe 4th of July!



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11 responses to “WS 27: Avoiding Cliche Characters

  • John D. Payne

    For me, one of the best ways to avoid both cliched characters and cliched descriptions of characters is to either draw a picture or find a picture for each of my characters. And I try to make sure they all have obvious, notable differences from each other. I think keeping the images of the characters sharp and distinct in my mind helps me avoid writing about a bunch of interchangeable clones or cliches.

  • M.L. Forman

    Cliche… I hate it when that happens and I don’t even notice. Yes, it is being lazy, or maybe just not paying attention to what you’ve written. A lot of times I try to avoid the cliche by not giving long descriptions of what people or things look like, I’ll let you, the reader, create your own picture of the person or place. O.K. not always a good plan, so here’s how I describe a wizard that I’ve told the reader is the greatest living wizard… form your picture of what the greatest living wizard should look like…
    “Old, but not too old; thin, but not too thin. He was almost six feet tall with shoulder-length silver-gray hair and a neatly trimmed goatee.” So what does he look like? Is he carrying a staff? Does he wear a robe? What about a magic ring? I’ll leave that all up to you, the reader. It will be a bit different for everyone, and everyone can create their own image of the greatest wizard alive. After all, isn’t the point of reading to create the images of the story in your own mind? If you want it all drawn out for you, wait for the movie.

    • alicebeesley

      I like mark’s idea too. don’t give a lot of description and let the reader fill in the blanks. I try to do that too.

      • John David Payne

        Funny that getting more concrete and getting less detailed are both ways to avoid being cliched. Maybe anything you do consciously to avoid cliches helps.

      • John D. Payne

        I think it’s interesting that Mark’s idea (less description for the reader) and mine (more concrete detail for the writer) are so different, and yet both seem like they would be helpful.

        Maybe any conscious attempt to avoid cliche is a good thing. πŸ™‚

      • M.L. Forman

        The interesting thing is, they aren’t as different as you might think. As the writer you need to know your characters, know exactly what they look like, what they sound like, if they like cheese, all that. Detail is your friend, as a writer. On the other hand, when you describe a character you don’t need to give all the details to the reader, just like you don’t always give all the details to someone your setting up on a blind date. Yes, that can lead to problems, but it’s nice to let people use their own imagination to fill in blanks as well.

  • M.L. Forman

    Umm… who won the bronze?

  • Alex

    Okay. You have cliche or stereotype. I think you avoid cliche by giving the character ‘character’ of his/her own. Because I have wizards on my mind πŸ™‚ As an example: the guy could look exactly like Gandolf. Does he act like that role? Or is he a blundering idiot that only wants to sit at home making pies with a wave of his jade (because of a spell gone wrong, of course) jeweled wand?

    Attitude, more than appearance, makes the character. At least it does to me. Descriptions are nice, but they can be a quick view that can be fleshed out as the story continues.

    You might not want the reader to know that this strange Mage is going to be all important. Yet. He may need a pie to blow up before we find out his eyes are brown with blue specks. Or some other detail that wouldn’t have been as casually observed.

    Wow. I now want to write in a strange brown eyed (with blue specks!) mage that enjoys making pies. πŸ™‚

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