Guest Post: Top Clichés in Writing by Jenny Benton

gp; jenny bentonMost of the time clichés in writing can be annoying and almost feel like a let down, even betrayal, for the reader. One of the most hated ones is, “it was all a dream,” thus explaining away the entire plot and making it pointless and the reader feeling cheated of a proper ending. However, there are some good clichés in writing, which are (to me at least) still entertaining, even if they are overused.

Bad guy turning out to be a main character’s father or mother.

Can be a little predictable, and most of the time we suspect it, however there can be times in writing where it comes as a complete shock, and to be caught out by a not uncommon troupe creates a lot of respect from reader to writer. If it’s pulled off well, this can be a very effective and intriguing cliché. I guess it would be quite different if you put a less immediate relative as the villain:

“You mean to say… he’s my…” she asked with trepidation.

“Yes. He is your second cousin twice removed.” He nodded solemnly, and she gasped.

“It cannot be!”

Bad guys sneering and being sarcastic.

Who doesn’t love an antagonist that you’d quite like to punch if you met them in real life? These antagonists usually swagger in unexpectedly, or are found leaning against a wall, eating an apple mockingly. They will have some snarky comment about whatever the main character has just been discussing, which is bound to cause at least a little drama. You can find one of these antagonists in almost every novel, and most of them are quite fun to read, even if you do want to slap them occasionally.

Brooding characters.

These characters have a mysterious past, and nobody is allowed to get too close to them – you wouldn’t understand.

They’re usually met in a busy location, but they stand out from the chattering crowd as the dark and mysterious loner in the corner. Of course, it’s always the one curious onlooker (normally the main character) who asks about them (Lord of the Rings springs to mind here). It would be funny if the brooding character ended up being no relation to the plot.

“Who’s that?” he asked, noticing the man in the hooded cloak in the corner, hunched into his chair, a hand around his tankard as he watched the candle sink lower in front of him.

“Oh that?” the barman asked, noting where he was looking. “That’s just Dave. He thinks he’ll get girls to be interested in him if he’s mysterious and brooding. I keep telling him it’s not going to work.”

Main characters turning evil.

Like the parent turning out to be the master villain, this has been done a lot, but again, when done well, it does work very well, and can even send shivers down the readers spine. To see a character who you’ve grown to love change utterly

into a killing machine is quite something. Sometimes you just want to say: “That was terrifying – do it again!”


Sometimes describing eyes, hair colour, landscape etcetera can be hard, especially trying to come up with a new and impressive. Sometimes it’s best to stick to the classics, though many find these annoying. Personally I rather like them, even if they are a bit used. I suppose the familiarity with the phrase is something that’s good at evoking emotions in readers.

“Eyes were sea green,”

“Red roses,”

“Midnight black.”

My name is Jenny, I write a range of fiction novels, but I particularly like writing mysteries, fantasy novels and adventure novels. This is my first piece of work that’s online (though I have been doing a colab fanfic with this fab blogger), and so I hope you like it.

Visit this page for an opportunity to guest blog yourself!


2 thoughts on “Guest Post: Top Clichés in Writing by Jenny Benton

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s