Predictability is a huge turn-off. As I was discussing with a friend recently, some authors seem to have just lost their charm, in no small part due to predictability. It becomes extremely annoying when you know what is going to happen, because what is the fun in that? The same things, tried and tested, again and again and again are very tiresome. People need to know that if someone else has already written about it, then you probably shouldn’t. It worked once, but that doesn’t mean it’ll work again!
So I compiled a list of all the clichés that I, with inputs from my fellow reviewers and the World Wide Web, absolutely despise in a book. It is sorted through genre, because while some clichés are author specific, most are genre specific. Here’s hoping that this list finds its way to the authors concerned.
- When the heroine is the damsel in distress who is going to be rescued by- gasp- her hero. Stop it already, please.
- Perfect characters do NOT exist. If you want to keep it realistic, then make your characters at least a little flawed. Because, no, sunlight doesn’t make a halo behind your hero or your heroine.
- Rekindling of high school romance. Sorry to burst your bubble, but unfortunately, high school sweethearts very seldom do end up getting married.
- One night stand which leads to secret baby. Oh God, spare me. This is one cliché which Ms. Susan Elizabeth Philips has expertise in. It not only makes for unpleasant characters (You have a one night stand to have a baby and you call yourself the ‘heroine’?), but is also a damn unrealistic.
- Mainly seen in historical romance, this is one cliché that I absolutely hate- When the millionaire playboy gets transformed into idiot lover boy for the sweet as sugar heroine. Yeah, right.
- Posing as a fake fiancé(e)/boy(girl)friend. This is one seriously overused cliché. It is so predictable – Circumstances are such that the hero/heroine needs a date (wedding of a loved one with social pressure is often the best situation), and one happens to come right along. The hero/heroine convinces him/her and they go to this ‘wedding’ where they’ll pretend to be in love, and usually are supposed to share a hotel room. Then they fall in love, but then some conflict happens, it is resolved and lo, you have the perfect novel! But, no, dear authors, you don’t, because we’re fed up!
- The hero and heroine initially hate each other….but then, love happens. Of course, this one can be interesting when treated nicely. But unfortunately, it seldom is.
Romantic suspense only has one real cliché. And it is: when the heroine is in danger, the hero is a cop/Fed, who saves her life. It is the plot of about every romantic suspense I’ve read till date. Not that annoying, admittedly, but it is beginning to turn really boring. It depends on the twists that the author can introduce after this kind of a beginning whether the book will be predictable and see-through or not.
- The biggest cliché in Fantasy, which most of you probably already know, is when the protagonist goes on some sort of a quest to- OhmiGod! – save the world.
- Another very famous Fantasy cliché is when the protagonist has to overthrow an evil king to save the tortured people. Yawn.
- Last, but by no means the least, is the cliché where the evil villain wants to take over the world (How’s that even possible? How exactly can one guy take over the entire world!?) And the main character has to fight him to save humanity.
- One of the biggest turn offs in this kind of a book is when the heroine’s sister (who’s supposed to be very anti-heroine) is marrying the heroine’s now ex boyfriend, who became the ex because he started an affair with the sister while the heroine and he were together. It is soooo overused!
- I hate it when there’s this whole thing where there is this one good guy, like, really good, who’s well settled, handsome and totally nice, who likes the heroine. Then there’s this other guy who’s everything the good guy isn’t. The good guy is really nice, but he doesn’t set the heroine’s heart racing. He’s really cute, but he isn’t- note these words; I have them memorised now- ruggedly handsome. He’s the guy the heroine ought to fall in love with, but he always gets the shorter end of the stick.
Give me a break! That is really not how it actually happens, and I just wish there were as many good guys around as novels make them out to be.
- The gay best friend. Because obviously every girl has that gay best friend who loves shoes as much as her. #sarcasm.
- Shoes bring me to another cliché- where the heroine has a fetish for shopping for shoes. Or any other one thing, really. Does there really have to be one thing that the heroine loves to buy? In real life girls actually love to buy a mixture of everything.
- The nagging mother is one chick lit character who is seriously overused. Although true sometimes, not every mother is overbearing. Give the poor moms the benefit of doubt, at least!
- One cliché in this kind of a novel is when the main character has seen someone close to them get murdered, which made him/her choose the career they are in. Then a case comes along for them, solving which automatically leads them to solving this past murder, i.e., this case and the murder of their loved one are interconnected.
Nobody ever thinks that the odds of that happening are almost impossible.
- The detective that drives a really flashy car. I don’t have anything against cool cars, but seriously, would you tail somebody in something as conspicuous as a Ferrari? Or an Audi?
- The tough guy who, despite doctors warning him, checks himself out of the hospital to solve the case. Wow, now that’s what I call dedication.
- Cops who can’t manage relationships – and/or whose spouses can’t handle their jobs. What did they expect when they married a cop? A 9-5 job with no stress?
- As anyone might have expected, the first point on this list just has to be- Vampires.
These young adult novels could well be called vampire novels now. Almost every other Y/A book that I see, involves a vampire story line in some way or the other.
- Love Triangles. Especially when the girl is indecisive *cough* Bella *cough*.
- This is a personal opinion, and not exactly a cliché, but I’d really like to tell all authors out there that a teenager does not have only a love life worth writing about- a Y/A book should be, and could be, about so much more than that!
- The biggest thing that annoys me in Y/A are the absent parents. Not everybody’s parents are like that, and this kind of a plot simply lacks originality.
- Then, there are the characters, whom I would absolutely kill if given a chance. Being a teenager, what really irritates me, is how can I not relate with the main character? I should be able to. But I guess I am nowhere like the TSTL (short for Too Stupid To Live) heroine (Fortunately!). Also, teenagers are shown to be so pathetic! We’re not all that shallow!
- Another cliché is when the nerd attracts the most handsome guy of the class: Give. Me. A. Break!
These are just some clichés that I feel are used a bit too much. Of course, a few of these, you might even like, but that doesn’t make them any less over-used.
A lot of them have also been used in hugely popular novels, some of which I liked too. This article is not to say that those novels were wrong in any way. The authors concerned obviously handled these plots excellently, which is why their books are successful. But often, when writers cannot think of an original story line, they give in and follow clichés, which is when their novels become tiring.
Also, it is not that an author becomes clichéd when he/she uses one of these plots in one of his/her novels. It is usually when they use a mixture of these in almost all their books that they become hugely predictable.