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Character Cliches to Avoid (Like the Plague)

This tutorial-suggestion love child will be split into two parts :: 1 for cliches that should NEVER, EVER, EVER, EVUR be done by anyone, and the second part being ones that shouldn't be done by beginning writers.

Section One: The Black Plague

These are character cliches that are so overdone that they should NEVER be done anymore.  EVER.

Underdeveloped Characters
Not a lot to say on this one.  There's nothing worse than reading a piece of writing though with a main character or side character that never got the character development that they deserved.

"Stone" Characters
This is my name for characters that never change through the series/work.  Your character should always grow with each obstacle they're faced with.

Characters with Atrociously-Spelled Names
Let's just say that if I have to get out the pronounciation guide to get through the first half of your character's name, it shouldn't be done.  Neither should flailing your fingers around on the keyboard until you find something "usable" or finally giving up and picking a name with no vowels.

Characters with Names that Describe a Physical Attribute
Sorry, this rule is relegated to parents that are psychics and kids under the age of 6 who are naming pets.  Enough said?

Characters with Nicknames
This one needs explaining, obviously.  If no one calls your character by their real name, then don't even bother giving it to us.  I don't care if your character has the prettiest first name ever; if it's not used, don't give it to the reader.

Characters with BAD Nicknames
Yeah.  If you've ever played Final Fantasy X-2, you know what I'm talking about with Leblanc and Nooj.  For those of you that haven't, think of your character as a human being before you give them a nickname like "Noojie-woojie".  

Complete "Loner" Main Characters
Emo and goth characters are the most criminally loner characters (although if you look at them in real life, I don't think that I've ever seen a goth person as a loner at my school) ever created.  If it's integral to your story, keep it.  If it's not, and it's to allow a "paranormal" person near them without anyone noticing, you've got a HUGE plothole.  Just a hint.  At least give them a best friend or something.

Fanfiction-type Characters
We've all seen one; something that's trying to pass itself off as an original character, but it's really a thinly disguised fanfiction?  Honey, changing names isn't the only thing you have to do to make your character original.

Most common mistake that beginning writers make is making a Mary/Gary Sue.  Unfortunately.  However, if you just want to use the name Mary Sue with a real character, I say all hats off to you.

The Abused/Hated Child
This one seems to be dying down this year, so hopefully it's at its end, but making your character "always hated by their parents" is not a character flaw, and only makes for an angsty character.  And really, angsty characters aren't attractive at all.

Section Two: Bubonic Plague

These are character cliches that an experienced writer might still have a chance at making the million with.  Unfortunately, against the beginning writers, the odds are about three million to one still, so I'd recommend leaving them until later.

The Missing Prince/Princess/Royal
It might so be that your character is a royal in disguise, but if they don't know it, you're bordering on a huge cliche here.  Seriously, it's been done for ages; just ask Grimm and his Sleeping Beauty.

The Loner Because of Fear
One of the main rules of thumb is that if they did it in Sailor Moon, don't do it now.  Makoto (Lita, in the English version) is a loner because of the rumour that she beat up a kid in her other school.  This applies to powers too; don't discriminate because of fear - there's always the stupid kid who doesn't realize the danger.

The Beauty and the Beast
Kind, sweet heroine meets sulky, cruel hero?  Sound familiar?  Usually doesn't happen that way in real life.

Royalty in General
Issues of class will always ring true to readers, but the royalty is getting a little much, especially when paired with a beggar.

Evil King
Or Queen, depending on who you are.  Back it up with war, but please, don't get so cliched as to say that even his/her own daughter/son despises him/her.

Blinded by Love
"She kicks puppies for a living, but I still love her!" Sound romantic?  Only in sappy romance novels.

Two Love Interests for the Main Character
Bella had Jacob and Edward.  Katniss has Peeta and Gale.  Don't create teams.  Please?

Mythical Creatures
Unicorns?  Fine.  Vampires and Werewolves?  Those were so the 2000s.

Section Three: The Cure

These are some things that I think are drastically underused in fiction (or at least YA fiction).

Mental Illness
If Shakespeare did it, you know that it's gotta be good.  Hamlet still rings true today for many fans.  Unfortunately, the last book that I read real mental illness in was from the 1990s.

The End of the Happy Endings
For me, if the book/series doesn't kill someone off by the end, it's not worth reading again.  It just tells me that the stakes weren't as high as the author made us assume.  Again, think Shakespeare.  Romeo and Juliet both die at the end, and it's still known as one of the greatest love stories of all time.  It's a little messed up, and a lot of fun.

The "Different" Supporting Character
Give me an alien.  Or a wizard.  Or even a vampire, but don't make it the main character, nor the contrasting character.  Make it a side character who really doesn't have much input in the story.

High Stakes
Again, going back to the fact that someone needs to die at the end?  If it's not the main character (who can be saved at the last moment, if needed), then the stakes aren't high enough.

Real, Quantifiable Jealousy
Ever wanted to do a bitchy character?  Me too.  Too often, the main character becomes friends with the bitchy character and the bitchy meter goes down.  For some people, that's just how they are.

Real Characters
Give me something to justify with.  An unreliable narrator?  Perfect.  A compulsive liar?  You could say that all authors are liars who make money off of it.  Whatever it is, make me believe it.
Yeah. After surfing for a bit, I realized how many bad characters there were, and this is my solution.

Well, that and leaving angry comments. ;D

Bella, Jacob, Edward (c) Stephenie Meyer
Katniss, Peeta, Gale (c) Suzanne Collins
Makoto (c) Naoko Takeuchi
Nooj, Leblanc (c) Square Enix
Add a Comment:
Gearogenix Featured By Owner Edited Jul 13, 2014
I'm glad i've avoided making these mistakes myself from the beginning Ule 
I looked back on all the characters i've created and i definitely feel like i've given them enough character.Smile 
i do have to make some changes to some characters but i dont think i've done too many bad things with my work development-wise.onion head "so what" 
Cept the drastic mistake of giving myself the position of being the main character maybe but i'm not perfect ay?onion head "smug"…
Lumosiarmus Featured By Owner Jul 5, 2014  New member
Thanks! I've been wanting to make an OC for a while and this is definitely going to help :)
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
You're very welcome!  If you run into problems, I also have other tutorials that are more specific to creating characters, if you want to check those out!

I'm also available if you have any questions, so come back with any!

Thank you for reading it!  <3
Sakura-Kitteh Featured By Owner Jun 22, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Is my charactor a Mary Sue? Her likes and personalities are alittle Sue-ish but I dunno, I was hoping for other input.…
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
First of all, I'm flattered you asked me, so thank you.  c:

I think that it's impossible to tell if your character is a Mary Sue just from that list.  Sure, she has a lot of positive traits to her personality, but oftentimes those traits backfire and become our worst traits as well (for example, someone who's very kind can become a doormat when manipulated, or someone who is classy can be immediately prejudiced by things that she deems to be "lower-class").  Until you start working with the character and making them do things, it's impossible to say.  Now, if this character never has a problem that she creates due to one of her own failings, but rather, comes to save the day from everyone else's or is merely externally conflicted, that's where someone becomes a Mary Sue.  

Now, as a bit of an aside (because I'm in the business of fixing people's characters; it comes second-nature at this point, so sorry if it's unwelcome), you may want to focus on your character's dislikes more.  I mean, everyone dislikes rude people, right?  And attention whores?  You haven't distinguished your character in a meaningful way.  Start looking into things like pet peeves; those can reveal some really interesting character traits.  

Hope this helps!  I may do something on what makes a Mary Sue sometime soon, since I get enough questions about it!
Sakura-Kitteh Featured By Owner Jun 23, 2014  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Yes! Her personality is obnoxious, classy and snobby, but she is also very patient with a short temper, she can also be alittle ronchy. And thank you so much for the critisizum! We need a lot more of NICE critiques! I am just so glad I stopped the sparkle cat phase. hah
Seraphsword-Seraphs Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
So having a quirky, three-legged, wingless dragon as a supporting character is good, right?
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Seraphsword-Seraphs Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
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