Cliches come in more than one variety

Cliches occur so often that they sometimes become part of our language, even if we don’t all speak or write like the tabloids. However, I am talking not about words but rather about ideas. Certain themes occur so often in particular genres that people may find they make them feel comfortable but others disagree.

A quill pen. People have been writing cliches for a long time.

People have been writing cliches for a long time.

Can cliches be unavoidable?

Some cliches occur in fiction because they exist in real life and writers sometimes need them to make their stories realistic. This is true whether you set a novel in the past or the present. It is hardly wrong to include a cattle-drive or a wagon train in a western or a red herring in a murder mystery.

Let us not promote stereotyping

Writers can be lazy and create a character with all the features people expect of someone of that race, age, gender or whatever. They could be thinking of characters in previous books or films. That might be easier but less rewarding than studying real people with their splendid variety of characteristics.

Some cliches are based on myths

I have written before about some myths of the Wild West created by moviemakers and I have tried to make The Cowgirl Murders more realistic as well as more interesting than the typical western.

  • Are there Gunfights? Certainly. But they do not follow the standard formula of the showdown in the street to see who is quickest on the draw.
  • Is there a crooked sheriff? One of the sheriffs is a bigot and another is eccentric but neither is corrupt.
  • Do Indians attack anyone? The few Native Americans have different personalities. One is aggressive and a fool, much to the irritation of his level-headed father.

If you want any more, read the book!

The cover of The Cowgirl Murders

The cover of The Cowgirl Murders