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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.

Mary/Gary-Sues
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 Fanfiction.net 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:
 
:iconneko-systeme:
neko-systeme Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
Though I really love the different supporting character idea, it's really annoying to get the strong and special character as the main one and having a boring, regular human as the support u___u Mental illnesses are great ideas as well - but not when the writer is like ''my character is schizophrenic and he hears voices but that's it - when the writer made some good researches :XD:
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:iconneko-systeme:
neko-systeme Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
I don't believe you need to kill your character. I do it, though :XD: But in some case, it can come out as lazy. Take Wolf's Rain, for example. Sure, it's a good story and I liked it. But everyone died at the end for no reason. Really, no reason other than making them die. You can kill a character, but not just to kill a character, you need to have a good reason behind it, cause just to make the story more dramatic is kinda lazy, in my opinion. There are other ways to make your story more dramatic. Plus, I do know some people who hate dramatic ending with death blabla so no, not everyone enjoys these and no, they don't always make your story interesting. 

Also I believe some clichés are ok ... if you use them correctly. A love triangle sure is annoying, but if you wrote it correctly than it's fine. Same with mental illenesses, etc. Not one cliché element make your character cliché, but a bunch of them too. I have an ''abused'' child, but he's more like an ignored by his biological child who actually had someone who took care of him and loved him enough to be considered his daddy. And he's a jerk. A complete jerk. With no excuse to be a jerk. I do believe he's ok because you cannot really feel sorry for his relationship with his parent - well, personnally, I don't. 
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:iconbleuhunter1:
BleuHunter1 Featured By Owner May 19, 2016  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
See a few cliches I've done with my characters but eh, I'm happy with them xD
Nice list, very informative.
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:iconmetallicgirl:
MetallicGirl Featured By Owner Apr 24, 2016  Professional Writer
Mostly I agree, except I don't think a character always has to die by the end. I think that depends on the genre.
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:iconsocks17:
Socks17 Featured By Owner Feb 20, 2016  Hobbyist Digital Artist
The thing about antagonist characters that I hate the most is that the majority of them have red eyes. I personally prefer gold eyes over red for villains.
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:iconserge9leaves:
Serge9Leaves Featured By Owner Jan 30, 2016
I'M LEAVING AN ANGRY COMMENT!

Nah, I'm joking.
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:iconanimedemon001:
Animedemon001 Featured By Owner Jan 25, 2016  Hobbyist Writer
The only way the naming after a characteristic works is in Warrior Cats (Where cats are often named for their fur color) or the like. If humans named their kids like these we'd have such names as Fleshy, Pinky, Baldo, and Gnome Face (Babies look like gnomes).
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:iconoverusedmemes:
overusedmemes Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016
tfw you have the Real, Quantifiable Jealousy cliche ovo"
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:iconpfutziie:
pfutziie Featured By Owner Jan 8, 2016
i wonder if my character is a mary sue.. she has kind of mental illnes and disorders but i dont know....can i show you my character so you can tell if she is a mary sue or not  if she is, than what can i do to fix it q.q
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:iconmsrosruby:
MsRosruby Featured By Owner Jan 10, 2016  Student
It's not likely that they would see it... Seeing as this was posted in 2010. But here's my opinion on it.

The fact that you question it though says something. It says that you need to add more to your character and give them these flaws. Are they a person you can meet in real life. If they are a Mary Sue, you should HATE them because they live a wonderful life, and I'm not talking about whether or not they had a dark past and their life in general WAS terrible. I'm talking about the person they are now.

But the thing that makes me mad, is when a character wins... At everything. Let them lose. Because if it's a fight between two people. There's always a chance someone else wins.

Also, Don't have bias for your character. They shouldn't be your friend, because people tend to want their friend to win and not suffer. No, these characters should have conflicts, and conflicts that make them change as a person. If there's a moment it you feel like it can't get worse. Throw something in and make it even worst. Push your character to the breaking point and show people who they are in their most vulnerable state. :D

You don't have to answer these questions in text, but please think about it.
1. Is she clinically diagnosed.
2. Is she the type of person to tell people that she might have a problem.
3. Is she the type of person to constantly blame her illness. And if she is, call her out on it.
4. Is she the resemblance of her mental disease.

Because I've ran into so many stories, with characters with a type of mental illness, and that's it! They are that Illness. And their entire life is an uphill battle with said illness. It makes me feel bad for them, but it makes the story incredibly boring. It's just the same problem.

This is ALL MY OPINION. Don't just take my word. Do more research. And find other people.
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:iconneko-systeme:
neko-systeme Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2016
My characters are my children and I enjoy making them loose and suffer, I must be one damn sadistic :XD: 
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:iconmayacat222:
MayaCat222 Featured By Owner Jan 4, 2016
Great tips! ^^ I definitely agree with most of them, especially "The end of happy endings". In my fave book series (Warriors) the main character dies at the end, and its one of the things that make it a good series (also if he was in the center of everything for more than 20 books, you finish by getting tired of him, so better kill him at the first ocasion! XD) I guess I will use this for the comic & story I am making... never thought of killing my OC Cinder before, but now as I think of it, its probably a good idea!
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:iconmitosuki-chan:
Mitosuki-Chan Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
YUSH! Just one thing though. What about a character that gets reborn, is it cliche? (Because I have a character that is my OC for the FNAF 3 nightguard shmoe, and when he was younger his sister was killed. They both get to see each other again in the present day.)
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:iconbaconchemist:
BaconChemist Featured By Owner Dec 12, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
The section names are perfect.

"She kicks puppies for a living, but I still love her!" is also perfect.

This is the definition of perfection.
P (Alphabets) E (Alphabets) R (Alphabets) F (Alphabets) E (Alphabets) C (Alphabets) T (Alphabets) 
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:iconminecraftbookworm:
minecraftbookworm Featured By Owner Nov 19, 2015  Student Writer
Wow, this is really a good reference of what to do and what not to do in writing, and this is very helpful. Thank you for writing it! And, honestly, a good read would be one where the narrator is unreliable, and I've only come across one so far. I'll definitely come back to this for reference in the future! 
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:iconhobbywriter:
HobbyWriter Featured By Owner Sep 25, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Well, giving nicknames and first names, don't have to be a bad thing, especially if the character dislikes their given name. But I agree, Nooji-wooji... ?
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:iconpotatobae:
PotatoBae Featured By Owner Sep 12, 2015  Student Artist
Ocs with insanity and killing people for a living is also a problem too.
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:iconscouta:
ScoutA Featured By Owner Aug 27, 2015  Student Traditional Artist
I agree with almost everything except for the nicknames thing. I don't see a problem with nicknames personally, but that's just me. You put this together in a nice, orderly way though and your input was useful. Nice job! :)
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:iconiioiiii111:
iiOIiii111 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2015  Student General Artist
In the book im writing, i make the character, who speak in fist person, have contradicting Opinions about certaint Objects, blurring the line of what it realy is. One of my characters is thinking the drones are bad, and describe them as, i quote: "completely useless" and another one as "the Best to happen to us". Mind you that the first character is one who works with and at them.
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:iconsummer-chrysantheml:
Summer-Chrysantheml Featured By Owner Jul 30, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
If you don't mind me asking, would it be a good idea to write a love triangle that ultimately fails? Failing, as in, one of the two guys officially dates the girl at some point, only for the couple to eventually break up. Most likely would be because, well, I'd say "(first) love will last for eternity" is another huge cliche that I'm not a fan of. Meanwhile, the other guy ends up falling for his former love rival or something? (A lot also happens in between these events, I don't really want my OCs' lives to be entirely dictated by their romantic interests and whatever drama that comes with them.)

Anyway, despite the fact that I want to give a happy ending for at least some of my OCs, I'll make it into something they're going to HAVE TO work for. Ending on a tragic note is usually far more intriguing, I agree, yet my pet peeve with happy endings is mainly directed towards those that are blatantly handed to the main characters.

I realize this list is from a while ago, but I really appreciate how you put this together! It definitely offers insight on common mistakes in characterization. I actually think mental illness shows up quite frequently though...(Again, I'm aware this list isn't that recent.) Unfortunately, in most cases I've seen, those characters are hardly believable. It's worse when their apparent mental instability gets played off as a charm factor, sigh.

Sorry I ended up rambling there--I would love to hear your take on this! 
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Ah, no worries!  Keep the questions coming; I'm pretty sure this is all I'm on dA for these days is to answer questions on this post . . . >____>;;

A love triangle that fails is an ultimately realistic idea.  Rather than the "oh I fought this random guy for your love and now we're going to live happily ever after," it's pretty common that shit gets dragged into love triangles that ends up breaking up a relationship (if you want a real life example, I had a friend who was somehow in the center of a love triangle.  Something got brought up about how one of the guys was still in love with his ex-girlfriend, and when she dated him, it ended up eating at her through their entire relationship; they didn't last more than like, two months).  

I've never been a fan of love triangles because it's hard for the girl to get any sort of characterization during them if that's what most of the story is about.  She tends to get cast off as some indecisive protagonist who "oh my god I just can't choose," or, worse, "oh my god, I don't feel that way about either of them, but I'm going to string them along anyways".  I mean, unless these two guys are the only two men left in the entire universe, there are a legion of guys out there that she could possibly fall in love with other than the two idiots who would rather fight over her.  If you can subvert that, great.  Having it fail?  Lovely idea (might want to make it clear why it fails though; just having it fall apart randomly diffuses some of the tension that was created when they got together, which in turn makes the reader question why they kept reading it).  Remember that art imitates life, and you generally have to go through a lot of failed relationships before you find one that sticks.

All of that being said, be careful about characterization.  Make sure that all three of the participants of the love triangle are strong enough characters to stand on their own, because otherwise, your failed love triangle will end up bringing down the entire story.  

I'm slowly changing my take on happy endings, I think.  I agree that it's all about having to work for them; I think I'm more interested in the ambiguous ending, to be honest.  I like the kind of ending that invites the reader to remember that these people are real people and their lives are continuing past the book/movie/whatever.  A happy ending closes the book; a good ending closes the chapter, is the way I see it these days.  There might not be anything written after that, but the fact that there could be is a thing that I think a lot of writers take for granted these days.

For the mental illness thing, oh my god, I know, right?  Suddenly everything has some sort of mental illness in it and it's rarely done well.  About a year and a half after this list came out, suddenly everything had it in it, and I could pretend it was because of this list (my ego knows no bounds), but at this point, I'm kind of done with how badly it's represented.  I mean, I work in criminal psychology, so I'm watching these things play out going, "huh?"  So yeah, there's a definite believability problem happening these days, unfortunately.

No worries on the rambling; I love to hear other people's takes on stuff like this.  Hopefully my thing up there helped (or I just rambled more, that's a possibility too), and if you have any more questions, or want to talk further, feel free to reply!
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:iconsummer-chrysantheml:
Summer-Chrysantheml Featured By Owner Edited Jul 31, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I wasn't specific enough in my previous comment--I meant to say something along the lines of, when the girl and the main guy started dating, they have no idea how to maintain a long-term relationship. Basically, as they are in their early teens while in the relationship, the couple can only go about as far as their feelings take them, which I believe will burn out sooner than later. There are other factors involved, though I'm not going to get to them now.

Yeah, the biggest problem with love triangles is that--especially when they're played off as a subplot--writers don't bother fleshing out the characters involved. It's one of many tropes that ends up being romanticized and barely contributes to the plot at times. (Honestly, I wanted to throw the library copy of the final book of the Hunger Games JUST FOR THE ENDING. This was years ago, but I remember Katniss and Peeta having a disagreement over whether or not to continue the Hunger Games with the Capitol's kids in the second last chapter or something, and then it gets brushed off in the ending. In the case of that series, the love triangle is nothing more than a miserable distraction, as far as the plot goes.)

Well, my personal preference on endings vary for different genres. As a whole, it's really about whether or not you can pull it off decently. A writer's job comes down to keeping the readers interested, after all. In my opinion, a piece of writing is never good just because you use a certain setting or trope; good writing is about how the writer works with their mechanics. Certain settings are cliche, yes, but that doesn't necessarily mean you can't make them work.

I referred to it as a happy ending, but I haven't even decided on where or how it's going to finish. Unfortunately, the default assumption a reader makes upon coming across a happy ending is that there's literally no more conflicts whatsoever for the characters when the curtains close. That said, I definitely like works where you can see the characters' lives going beyond the "ending." Endings that don't tie up all of the loose ends are generally the most effective, I think, since the fate of the character in the future isn't set in stone.

As it turns out, I really love the concept of having my two OCs who are former love rivals fall in love with each other instead. Not because I'm trying to go against the norm by using an unconventional setting or I want them to be fanservice material--from what I've seen, writing with either attitude is a bad idea, period. It's because while they can get along, there's a lot of rough edges in their relationship dynamics. I guess I'm aiming for, well, something that disproves the idea that "everything goes smoothly because they love each other a lot?" I mean, technically finding a romantic interest who loves you back doesn't mean everything in your life will be in your favor.

I'm almost wary of anything with any mentally ill character by now. It's either the writer doesn't do them justice, or the fandom mischaracterizes them to the extent where their value as a character is gone completely. Like I said before, whether or not a story will be good isn't decided by what setting you throw into the plot.

Anyhow, thanks a lot for the reply! It's always helpful to hear someone else's opinion, since it's easy to be subjective about your own work, one way or the other. (This comment is like twice as long as my previous, wow. >w>)
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:iconembyrn:
Embyrn Featured By Owner Jul 28, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I was wondering if my character is too cliche for having PTSD.
I know the details of PTSD, but i would like to know if it is a bad cliche-even if it is a logical thing to happen to a character that has gone through horrible things.
If it helps, my character was tortured for information during a war before the story takes place.
Could you please help? 
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Depending on how horrific it is, I would be more skeptical if your character DIDN'T have PTSD.  

Remember that things like mental illness, PTSD included, have "shades" of sorts; some people get it really bad, and some people don't get it as badly, but in the end, they all fall under the same umbrella.  If you're worried about a character being too cliche because of PTSD, think about why the character needs to have it.  Obviously, it would be part of the history of the character, right?  But think about when it pops up again.  Are you only using it once?  Is it being illustrated rather than told?  Is it crucial in order to understand the character's reactions to things?  

A lot of times we're told to make the character and let the scenarios play out, but this might be a good time to look at how the character would react to the rest of the plot.  Look at what symptoms your character would exhibit (don't just use the laundry list given by the DSM-IV; most people react with a few of those, not with all).  

The only way you can really make it super cliche is to have it be almost irrelevant to your plot, revealed in secret to the protagonist as part of a romantic scenario and is never brought up again (though even that can be subverted; for an example, look at "Audition" by Ryu Murakami).  

My recommendation is to look at how and look at why.  Fight to make it an accurate representation, and you should be golden.

Hope that helps!  Feel free to ask more questions!
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:iconembyrn:
Embyrn Featured By Owner Jul 29, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
 That really helped, thank you! (=
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:iconadventureorrage:
Adventureorrage Featured By Owner Jul 3, 2015  Hobbyist
i just found a smart person who knows about characters... and that person is you.
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jul 9, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thank you!
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:iconbrodnork:
Brodnork Featured By Owner May 27, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I have a a smarter science-loving character. I want to make him asexual/aromantic, but is that too cliche?
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner May 28, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
As long as you do it well, I don't think so.  Proper representation (meaning an authentic representation of asexuality/aromanticism) almost always destroys the cliche because it generally makes it multidimensional.  A lot of the problems with the cliches mentioned above are because they compress the character into a one-dimensional being whose entire universe revolves around this one problem.  Do it well, and it's contributing to a more rounded character, not creating a character whose only purpose in your work is to be asexual/aromantic.  

What I might caution against, however, is having your main characters (if it's not this character) figure this as a given.  For example, "oh yeah, obviously (name) is asexual/aromantic because he's always been more interested in science than (insert gender here)".  If the character is just discovering it, it should be gradual.  It's not something they're just going to share with all of their friends because it's new to the character.  If the character knows it and has processed it, remember that they may still hide it from people.  And if it gets shared, remember that it will probably need a reason to be shared, and the character will likely not just randomly one day decide to tell everyone unless they're feeling pressured (such as, to be honest because they're hiding something from good friends, etc).  I probably wouldn't attempt to tie your character's love of science into the asexual/aromantic thing (such as, they've always been interested in science because they're ace/aro), because then you're compressing a good portion of your character's entire life into their sexual/romantic views, and as such, reducing the number of facets in the character.

Hope this helped some (sorry it's kind of all over the place though)!  If you have any more questions, let me know!
Also, as an aside, in the interests of fair representation and because I know how hard it is to find aromantic people at times, I myself am at the very least grayromantic (more probably aromantic, but I hesitate to call myself that because it seems so final), so if you have questions about how aromanticism feels. I can try to help out.  Of course, this is assuming you or someone you know isn't aro, but there's so few of us that I figure I might as well offer.
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:iconbrodnork:
Brodnork Featured By Owner May 28, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Alright, thank you! This was a very good response! If I never need information, I'll ask you!
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner May 28, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks!  Glad to be of service!
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:iconpokevoremaster415:
pokevoremaster415 Featured By Owner May 14, 2015
does this sound like a cliché?

"protagonist discovers his/her powers by accident"?
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner May 22, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
A bit, yes, although there's only so many ways that a protagonist could discover their own powers.  I have two recommendations to possibly pull it out of cliche:

1. Have the accident be a catalyst for how they discover their powers, but not necessarily be just that moment.  For example, protagonist does something, narrowly escapes a dangerous situation (or something; "by accident" isn't overly descriptive here) by what they think was luck, and tries to look into how they escaped before realizing it was their own abilities that saved them.  This avoids some of the "superhero syndrome", where characters realize their powers when saving themselves/someone else, and immediately realize that yes, it was them, and yes, they can do something amazing (and so decide to use it for good or evil depending on what you're reading).
 
This is also a good tension-builder.  If you can pull it off so that the audience believes that the incident itself was an accident up until the protagonist themselves realizes that it's not, they can start asking the same questions as the protagonist, which not only builds rapport between the reader and protagonist, but also keeps them reading.  

The downside to something like this is that it's going to be difficult to keep the reader in the dark, so it'll have to be done efficiently enough that the reader doesn't get bored, but built up enough so that it has the proper amount of impact.  Depending on which viewpoint you're writing from, it may also be difficult to limit the reader's information.  A third-person omnipotent viewpoint is going to be a lot more difficult than a first-person viewpoint, for example, since the omnipotent voice is likely going to give clues that the protagonist doesn't have (and if the protagonist suddenly makes a jump of logic that may make sense for the reader, but not necessarily for the protagonist themselves, since they don't have the omnipotent narrator in their head, your protagonist loses credibility).  

2. Have the reason that the protagonist discovers their powers explained later.  This one borders on cliche still, but it's generally done badly, so doing it well may give you a few points for originality.  The thing about this is that it needs to be explained REALLY well, and it needs to be relevant.  Say that your protagonist's powers emerged because of a near-death experience (which is not something I recommend, by the way, since it's one of the big cliches).  Can we really believe that in all of your protagonist's years of life, they've never had another near-death experience, even as an infant?  Outside catalysts tend to be done well though (something else happens and it sets off the protagonist's abilities).  

This can help strengthen your plot.  One of the best examples of this is the video game Ghost Trick (not sure if you've played it, but I highly recommend it, and it works fantastically in this without spoilers).  The protagonist has powers that they can't explain, and later, it's explained why they have them, using the other characters involved to complete a full picture of how it happened (and it's related to the main plot directly; it's not some side off-shoot that is sort of mentioned and then never again).  Everything in the game relates back to one another, creating what is more of a "plot web" than a plotline (meaning that everything connects together in different ways, unlinear and densely, and not relying on coincidence to explain it).  

As I said before, however, this can border on cliche.  You really have to think about how it needs to be executed.  Does it have a reason?  What does it do to your plot?  Is it necessary?  Would your plotline be incomplete without the reason?  If any of the answers is no (or nothing), you don't want to use this one, because it's going to fail to accomplish what you want it to.  

Without knowing your plot further, I can't give you many more options (although if you want to talk about it further, please, I'm more than happy to help!), although I'm sure there's more out there.  I think the biggest questions to ask yourself about whether it's cliche or not are:
1. Has it been done before?
2. Do I have a reason for doing it like this (or can I just not think of a better way to do it)?
3. Is the way I am doing this revealing something about the character?  There is acting and there is reacting; the first reveals hidden truths about the character, and the second is merely the character having to make the best of a situation.  Make sure in major scenes that your character is acting, not simply reacting to the situation.

Hope this helps!
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:iconpokevoremaster415:
pokevoremaster415 Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2015
bruh... thanks!

one more question. is there such thing as setting clichés?
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jun 18, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
No problem!

Interesting question.  I had to think about this one for a bit before answering.
I'm assuming you mean setting as in environment, which is a fantastic question.  Cliches happen when something is overplayed in the genre, so theoretically, yes, there could be setting cliches.  That being said, it would be kind of hard to execute that in a piece of writing.

To illustrate my point, imagine you have a character who is a prince waging war against another kingdom.  Obviously, one of the final fights is going to be in the other castle (because that would be where the other ruler lives).  This isn't so much cliche as necessity; it makes logical sense for the battle to be fought there.  The reader is expecting it because of their own logical reasoning.  You could attempt to subvert the genre by having it take place elsewhere, but in the end, you're still going to have to end up in that other castle eventually, and it's likely been the goal of the character to begin with, so subverting it is probably not in your best interest.

However, having the battle at on the roof of the castle, Beauty and the Beast style, (. . . I know there's others, but that's all I can think of at the moment) is a lot less necessary, especially if it ends with one party falling off and the other standing at the highest point of the tallest tower while the sun rises behind them.  (Note: there is something called the objective correlative that I'll come back to in a second.)

What makes these different?  Why is one cliche and one not?  It all boils down to the purpose of the environment.  The castle is a necessity.  Its purpose is clear: not only does it serve as a pretty awesome place to have a battle, but it also has symbolic meaning.  The castle is the stronghold of the kingdom.  If the castle falls, so does the empire.  You see a lot of battles waged in castles in the throne room because of this reason; it has symbolic purpose.  Meanwhile, what is the purpose of having the characters duking it out on the roof? Unless there's a logical reason (such as, your character is a dragon and can't fit inside the castle or something), it's likely done for dramatic purpose, for the possibility of falling off.  Not only is it going to be difficult to get your characters onto the roof in the first place (I mean, who has a fight and says, 'you know, I think I'd like to add in the possibility of sliding off to my death'?), but if you go with the falling death, your character really hasn't had much to do with the victory, and that's going to keep readers from identifying.  

The reason why setting cliches are around is mainly because of movies.  In books, setting is important, but it's more important how your character interacts with the setting.  In a movie, the setting acts as its own character.  The setting is literally in every scene because it has to be.  This is why it's harder to have a setting cliche in a written work; if the character doesn't interact with the environment, then the reader isn't going to notice it.  No one reads through three pages of environment description anymore (thank goodness!).  If the writer creates a cliche, it's pretty damn obvious.  For example, standing at the highest point of the tallest tower with the sunrise behind the character.  There's a lot of things that have to come together to create that image, and it becomes obvious on a readthrough that the image is cliched.

As I mentioned earlier, there is something called the objective correlative that we use in fiction.  It's a really complicated term, and you'll probably go crazy trying to find a definition that makes sense, but the idea is that you're creating mood through inanimate objects.  For example, rain for sadness.  There was a worksheet in one of my creative writing classes that used the example of a rainy day funeral, where all of a sudden the clouds open up to have one ray of sunlight fall on a single flower growing on a grave to represent hope.  Both of those are really heavy-handed examples, but you can use it skillfully if you remember that people see items differently based on their emotional state.  

The point of this was the highest point of the tallest tower plus sunrise thing.  The reason why this is used is because it is an objective correlative way to announce triumph or victory.  The reason why it's cliched is because it's been used SO many times before to illustrate the same thing that we all know what it means at this point.  In order to subvert the cliche, you'd have to do it differently, but still use the same feeling.  For example, having the sun shine through the stained glass window in the throne room to have the victor bathed in white light and the loser in red (not the best example, but you see what I mean).  All you have to do is become creative with it.

I think that answered your question, but feel free to ask more clarifying questions about this one; it's a quite interesting idea!
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:iconarchwings99:
archwings99 Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2015  Student Digital Artist
The only "black plague" one I used is the loner character. At least, I'm trying to. As for the abused/ hated child, would being disrespectful to one parent count? My oc only has his Mom and his dad died in a war. He doesn't get along with his family because of that and his sister wants to help him. How's that?
Beauty and the beast, royalty, evil king, mythical creatures are all used including the main characters (Angel, werewolf,witch, neko, vampire etc). I've made up a bit and used some creatures that aren't used often.
As for mental illness, I gave a few of my oc's mind disabilities (Autism, BPD, OCD,Dyslexia). My manga won't have a happy ending. I also tried to make the characters as real as possible (and by that I mean close to real people).
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner May 22, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Sorry for the late reply; I've been stuck in university finals and just now managed to pull my head back into good headspace, so let me take a look!

The abused/hated child trope is one where the protagonist believes that their parent hates them/abuses them, and the reader has no ability to see that there is a difference in the protagonist's view and the view of the parent.  There are a few problems with this trope, mostly that using it generally collapses the bond between parent and child down to one problem rather than many.  Your protagonist doesn't get along with his mom because his dad died in a war.  What does the mother feel?  Does she no longer love him?  If not, why?  (Note, I wouldn't recommend going down that path unless you have a REALLY good reason for it.  The bond between parent and child is generally one of the strongest bonds that people have, so making that believable is going to be quite a pain.)  Remember that for every conflict, there are two sides.  Your protagonist is not the only one who has a goal in an interaction; maybe the mother is fighting to make the protagonist understand something about how his father died.  I'd be interested to know why the protagonist has turned against his mother due to his father's death.  Is she hiding something from him?  Has she moved on?  The fact that you have another character supporting your protagonist (the sister) makes me think that it should be a fairly solid reason, since two characters are (assumed to be) coming to the same conclusion to go against a parent.  Make sure the reasoning is solid in that case.  A reader should be able to understand both viewpoints if it's done well.

I should point out that using tropes isn't necessarily bad, but it is important to realize when you're doing it and attempt to subvert them whenever you can.  Using mythical creatures is a gamble because of their viewpoints.  Put yourself in their shoes; what are their goals and their thoughts on certain situations?  To subvert that trope, you're going to have to make sure that the culture they come from is rich, and not the same as human cultures (think about the cultures of different races if you need help understanding what I mean.  I come from a mixed-race family, so I have Japanese traditions, such as not wearing my shoes indoors, etc, and French ones, such as expecting wine at dinner.  These are both really superficial examples, but hopefully that communicates what I mean).  Think about their interactions with other magical creatures.  Think about their histories, their feelings of membership in communities.  Resist the urge to collapse them down into their specific creatures; in the end, they should be as detailed and real as your human characters.  

As a recommendation (and I can't say too much, since I haven't read any of your manga, so I have no clue how you're doing this), instead of thinking of them like real people (which does help sometimes, don't get me wrong!), think about their motivations.  As humans interacting with one another, we forget that other people have different aims and goals from us, but that's exactly what is happening.  Sometimes our aims mesh well, creating harmony, but other times, we want things that are different from other people in an interaction.  Don't just stay in your protagonist's head.  Every time a character does something, ask what that action is doing.  What is it accomplishing for them?  Are they acting in their own interest?  If not, why?  It'll be strange to think about it that way at the beginning, but it becomes easier, no worries!

Final bit of advice, don't use my recommendations as a checklist!  In a perfect work, everyone and everything would be represented authentically, but let's be honest; that's not going to happen unless your work is three million pages long.  Make sure that if you tackle something like mental illness, do your research.  Represent it well and represent it authentically.  Don't just use Google; find people who have it!  Talk to them!  Get their viewpoints, try to get in their heads!  That'll be a lot more effective than merely having a laundry list full of characters who have disorders or problems that affect them once and then never again.

Hope that helps!  If you have any questions, feel free to reply back!  I should be much quicker this time; no finals!  =______=;;
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:iconarchwings99:
archwings99 Featured By Owner May 25, 2015  Student Digital Artist
Thank you.
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:iconshipwreck5897:
Shipwreck5897 Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015
Hm... Interesting. At least I haven't done any of these...
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:iconwhispersbettenoir:
WhispersBetteNoir Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2015
I'm going to have as many non human characters as possible just to spite you
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner Jan 16, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
Do it.  Don't let me keep you from trying something.
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:iconcupcakehug:
CupCakeHug Featured By Owner Nov 1, 2014  Student General Artist
I've only got one question (I really like it, helps me a lot, though I've never really used this kind of cliches), are angels safe to use?
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner Nov 2, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I think it depends on what kind of spin you put on it.  Angels have lots of different details associated with them; now, if you're doing the same thing as the rest of your genre, yes, it sounds like cliche.  But, if you can make it unique, there's no reason why it shouldn't be safe.  I think it's all about working uniqueness into your cliche.

(To answer what I think your actual question was, I tend to put angels in the mostly-cliche category and don't tend to use them unless I have a better idea for them.  They're not something I've really used a ton of, due to their western religious influence [as someone who was raised Shinto, I don't feel comfortable working with them unless I redefine the archetype], but I think that there's a lot of flexibility in working with the idea to make it unique and therefore escape cliche.)

Hope that helps!  Feel free to ask any more questions (or ask me to clarify this one; my apologies, it's early morning, so this may be mostly gibberish . . . )!
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:iconcupcakehug:
CupCakeHug Featured By Owner Nov 3, 2014  Student General Artist
Thank you for your help. No, I wasn't planning on going the cliche way with my angels.
My angels will be quite unique as far as I know. Again, thanks for your help :)
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:iconcastleunderthemoon:
CastleUnderTheMoon Featured By Owner Oct 11, 2014
The underdeveloped charaters part I agree with ALOT. I watched an anime, and I was so angry because I watched the whole series but only one charater had some character development, if any. And the end was stupid. I still like the show, but still. 
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:icongmyuna:
GMYuna Featured By Owner Oct 14, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
I think it's happening more and more these days, where characters are sort of thrown out there and it's expected for the plot to carry the story.  Plot is only one part of the equation; if the characters aren't affected by the plot, it doesn't matter, and the entire thing feels ineffectual.  I think that's one of the reasons why people still subscribe to the idea that you throw your characters into the worst situation possible for them; it forces the characters to change.  

Of course (and completely beside your point, but now that I've started typing it, it's apparently determined to come out), these days, if character development happens, too often it's positive change, I think.  Negative change tends to either be ignored or have supervillain angst.  I think if I was writing the same piece today, I would probably capitalize on that; there are a lot of things that I've missed in this piece, and a lot of things that people have pointed out over the few years it's been on this site.

Thanks so much for your comment!
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:iconcastleunderthemoon:
CastleUnderTheMoon Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2014
Thanks for replying to my comment. And I agree with you.

Honestly,  I was thinking about writing a fan fiction for the show, but I don't know if I should.  Should I?
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