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Crazy, psychopathic, murderer ladies

Sexy, butt-kicking girls

Crazy/random/hyper self-inserts

Depressed emo/goth/always-dresses-in-black types

Angsty/moody/hot teenagers

The brown-haired girl with no personality

The mean, popular, snobby girl

Unreasonably cruel bullies out to make life harder for the main character

The best friend (if they were a good character who *happened* to be a best friend they wouldn't have to be described as this)

Fun fact: Making victim OCs is cliche
Another fun fact: how someone dresses is NOT their personality
Yet another fun fact: People who claim to be random really are not and they know it.
Super bonus fun fact: A character's breast size need NEVER be stated. The end.

Super de duper bonus fun fact: Please, spare us the paragraphs on what the character looks like. It is a story, not a fashion show. A few sentences with mentions of hair color or other select features you find necessary to point out(KEYWORD: NECESSARY) are perfect. After all, how many paragraphs did JK Rowling describe Harry in? And yet we all know what he looks like... Plus, there are always these things called *pictures* you can take advantage of! especially on this fine art site ;)

Super de duper bonus fun fact part 2: When you're describing a character (or explaining a background, etc.) you don't have to do it all at once. Pace it reasonably throughout the story or it will become too overwhelming for the reader. Think of creative ways that make describing things seem more necessary. Example: She pulled out a piece of her curly orange hair.


Turned crazy from being abused

Turned depressed from being abused

Turned anything from being abused

Family was murdered

Anything to do with a fire or a car crash

Anything that was invented for the purpose of making the audience feel bad for them, just to get their family out of the way or just for the sake of being dramatic/emotional.


Over-dramatic/emotional scenarios specifically designed for "fluff" (aka unbearable corny-ness that you will someday wake up and realize you feel like complete fool for writing)

Making it up as you go (aka no plot)

Romance/romance related

Fun fact: Dramatic scenes do require more skill to write than casual scenes and most of the times less is more. If you base a whole story on the most dramatic/emotional things you can think of you WILL regret it.
I repeat, less is more (I don't necessarily mean less dramatic scenes, but also less drama IN the scenes too. The less drama, the more surprised we'll be when your character pours out their heart or whatever, so save the drama for when it's really important).

Another fun fact: There is this come in handy-ish thing called suspense. Drama is the anti-suspense. Create a suspense that the drama can have fun destroying, because drama without suspense is dead. It needs something to feed on.
I know you're dying to get to the part where your character is sobbing their heart out, but let the readers get to know them first, or they won't care as much (if at all...).
In most cases the only way for us to get to fully know them is through light-hearted, casual, every-day scenes and situations (sometimes far more than just the dramatic ones). It's up to you to make THOSE interesting too, you know.

(Also consider whether the sobbing their heart out part is too corny or not. A lot of the times it really is. Be careful).

Example of over-dramatic/over-used scenario (a short and undetailed one to be precise): Your character is completely distraught and broken. They sit in a corner with their arms around their knees sobbing. Then their boyfriend comes up and comforts them.

If you have an emotional/dramatic scene like this think very carefully: Is this the kind of thing I want my grandchildren to see in years to come or is it something I'm going to want to burn in humiliation?

Yet one more fun fact: Stories don't HAVE to have romance in them *shockety shock shock*

The last fun fact: Don't look up to animes when you write. Things that pass in anime don't always in literature. They're all full of Mary Sues for one.





Saying "I like *insert type of cute food/animal/object here*"

Barfing rainbows

Basically anything else you got from internet memes or fads


Lyrics/links to songs (sorry, but music is personal and no one is going to think of it the way you do. Plus, adding lyrics that you didn't write in the middle of a story is unprofessional)

Rewriting a story just to add a love interest
(anyone who writes down scenes of a movie word for word frankly has no life)

Sex, drugs, alcohol, racial issues (basically anything you can report someone on clubpenguin for talking about)

Fun fact: The more swearing in your writing the more immature it sounds. It's a scientific fact.
(Granted, it could be realistic if it's the way of a certain culture etc., but I think it's safe to say: leave that to those who know what they're doing).


Please, read my new post: How Not to Tell a Story…

Clarification: I am not saying that all these things are necessarily BAD. I am saying they are cliche and can usually be associated with unprofessional/amateur/inexperienced beginners.
I am not saying that none of these can sometimes be UNcliche when handled with care. Many good stories do involve car crashes or fires after all.
This is simply a list of cliches I put together of things that I have honestly encountered at least eighty million times each. Make of it what you will.

My take on Mary Sue…

And here's a video I highly recommend for people who write about romance....… (I highly recommend a lot of their videos actually. They're worth taking a look at, especially the ones about relationships!!).
Add a Comment:
scourge728 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Artist
to be fair the "random" type characters are usually used in humor stories 
TheWritingWZ Featured By Owner Jun 19, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
This cliche-list just made my day ^^
BloodInTheTea Featured By Owner Jun 8, 2016  New Deviant Hobbyist Writer
Is this an okay amount of description for a character's looks - "Looking into the mirror Victor notices he looks a mess, short dark green fur sticks out in odd positions, dirty and matted blackish green hair hangs low and looks greasy"

In the beginning of the story i did this - "
Victor stands up and stretches, leaning forward as his wings burst out from his back and stretch as far as they can go"

I didn't mention the color of his wings, since i don't think that's to important. Note that i placed those descriptions in separate paragraphs, those two scenes are probably around ten to fifteen minutes apart in the actual story.

Are they good? i hope people can imagine what he looks like alright with those descriptions. If not i can always link them to his ref sheet, since that's the best place to see what he actually looks like.
shadowsheep887 Featured By Owner Apr 10, 2016  Hobbyist General Artist
"Yet one more fun fact: Stories don't HAVE to have romance in them *shockety shock shock*"

YES THANK YOU :tighthug:
Frostehzehdragon Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2016  Hobbyist Artist
A couple years ago, I wrote a fan fiction that I thought was REALLY good. I read this, and then went back to the fanfiction to read it, and then I had a cringe attack and thanked the fandom gods that I didn't post it on the internet.
Glaceonlover2206 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2016
I hate how everybody always has those depressed "BAWWWWW FEEL BAD FOR ME" characters.
NovaArtYoutube Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2016  Student General Artist
1jasminelemon Featured By Owner Jan 28, 2016
Omg, advice really. In truth, my fic is clich. I believe I rushed it a lot. I'm glad i found this. Now i can refix my work. Thanks so much, i'm laughing so hard at myself. You're an awsome advice giver in a very comedic way.
EmmieyCathiey Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2016
Question; could the breast size technically be stated if the size makes the OC's back hurt? I know people who have large breasts who have back problems due to having large breasts.
MakingFunOfStuff Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2016
In a story there are infinite possibilities. Part of being creative is realizing you don't have to settle for something if it's not in your best taste. So I would say drawing attention to something like that is tacky when you really never have to.
grimm-girlie Featured By Owner Dec 15, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank gucci someone wrote this, I've read a lot of amateur stuff and a lot of it follows these clichés
oviedomedina Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2015
You reallly, really ought to get an account on and post this there. Seriously, the kids uploading stuff on that site woud benefit GREATLY from reading this.
scourge728 Featured By Owner 4 days ago  Hobbyist Artist
there is actually quite a lot of good stuff in the warriors and portal fanfiction archive (Especially the portal) and even some in the pokemon fanfiction archive (one story has 66,000 word chapters)
oviedomedina Featured By Owner 4 days ago
You are right, but those are the minoritiest of minorities amongst all the ungood stuff there.
Crescenti-C Featured By Owner May 19, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
:pointr: Stories don't HAVE to have romance in them *shockety shock shock* :iconthisplz:


Seriously, romance has become SUCH a cliche now I don't even look at book covers that have a couple on it, though there are some exceptions depending on how ORIGINAL and REALISTIC the romance is. Don't even get me started on love triangles omg.
VoadorChama Featured By Owner May 18, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
A very good list. One other point on the swearing thing: if you must insert profanity into your story, try to make sure it actually makes sense! For instance, don't have pre-World-War-II characters using the F-bomb; veterans will tell you that that word was never really used as a common cuss word until after the war. Don't have elves, dwarves, or whatever other non-human character swear using American English words. That bugs me more than the actual profanity. For instance, why would lions in The Lion King be using human cuss words? That's only ONE instance I could list. :P
shadhardblogger Featured By Owner Edited Apr 27, 2015  Student Writer
:lol: I'm looking forward to writing barfing rainbows later on in my story (this is "The Last Apprentice" coming soon online to here @ deviantART ). Hey, I can count the Mary-Sues by name in my experience: The brown-haired girl with no personality is Bella Swan from the Twilight series (or The Twilight Saga to be perfectly honest) by Stephanie Meyer, the goth is Ebony or Enoby from "My Immortal", the lucid dreamer is Jenna from "My Inner Life", the little good self-insert of 10 years is Laura from "Legolas", the Purity Sue of the city of waters is Princess Elise from "Sonic 06", Chris-Chan is one archetypical perk of being a superhero and self-insert combined from "Sonichu"... I just can't think of anymore. That's all I know! :)

Oh! I almost forgot: Eternity from "I'm Not Okay (I Promise)" by bloodytearz666 (Raven) and Kitty from SuperKawaiiGurl225's "I'm Not OK".
Dorminchu Featured By Owner Edited Apr 13, 2015
You bring up many good points, and I'm glad I read this. :)
NPOtheartist Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I looked up "anti-fun" and found this.
Do you want to explain why you feel that way ?
NPOtheartist Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I'm just saying I found this when I looked that up.
MakingFunOfStuff Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015
Oh. Literally.
I thought you were just being rude. XD
NPOtheartist Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
MakingFunOfStuff Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015
So why were you looking that up anyway?
NPOtheartist Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I guess I wanted to see how many posts went by until I found an anti-brony thing. IDK it was like, Sunday.
MakingFunOfStuff Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2015
I see.
Carry on.
pim-nee Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I am forever grateful for the mention of the cliche about breasts.
Seriously, who has read a book with a girl-main who we DON't learn in the first chapter is unhappy with her breast size? Plus it's almost every time just about having a too small size, and not too big. Big breasts is not the key to true beauty! It's kinda inpraktisera really (and yeah, I'm speaking according to experienced) I really said aloud "GOD FINALLY THANK YOU" when I read that part. Kinda over-dramatic maybe, but I've always found that frustrating and felt like I'm the only one who does. So yeah haha thanks for also thinking about that xD
pim-nee Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
I should try to be more thorough with my proofreading ^ ^'
pim-nee Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
pim-nee Featured By Owner Jan 24, 2015  Hobbyist General Artist
Sorry swedish Google translate
SporeDiatrymisss Featured By Owner Edited Dec 31, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I agree with you. Llama or cake is not random. Nor is cookies or unicorns.

It's just annoying.

Also, a smexy butt-kicking lady with attitude problems is the worst character you could ever have ever. That kind of character always makes me die a little inside. 

It's true that I'm planning such a character for my comic, but this will just be a comical relief as she will consist of nothing but epic fail and slapstick humor.
naluforeva239 Featured By Owner Dec 28, 2014  Student Filmographer
Weidenlied Featured By Owner Oct 20, 2014  Hobbyist Artisan Crafter
Hmm... may I ask you a question? I read a few (not all of them, but I might get around to it) of your articles, and I think you raise a lot of valid points. While I do occasionally enjoy stories with fluff or not much going on plotwise and with Mary-Sue character types, when I myself write I try to avoid it. So, here's the thing.
I'm currently working on a story of a girl who is forced out of her normal (-ish) life and has to follow an older alien around (not her love interest, ew) lest she goes crazy. Now, I try to make her reactions seem "believable", so at first I had her be intimidated and feeling lonely, mostly because the alien needed to learn a thing or two about humans, and I will readily admit that after four chapters I used the cliché scene you listed and made her hide in a corner and crying because she felt alone and terrified. Now, I need a way for her to feel better, to make her see some sort of silver lining to all of the horror that became her life, and was thinking about meeting a little girl that needed her help to get her to snap out of it. Wat do you think about this approach? You know, to give her something else to focus on for a while and then deal with by talking it out with the alien.
earthwasim Featured By Owner Sep 17, 2014
thank you  so much! i have only just really got into DA, and the moment I found your Literature critiques I had to read them from top to bottom :3 really helpful to set me on the right track with my own writing ideas and I agree with what you say, stories nowadays (although definitely not all of them)  have a tangible, repetitive pattern and several issues with the structure and charácter constructs.

Your one about Love in YA is also very, very useful and helpful. All good constructive tips to keep in mind.
morakke Featured By Owner Sep 14, 2014
I read a creepypasta called 'The Undertaker', where the main character is crazy, but not because of abuse. No spoilers.
MsTalksALot65 Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2014
I just noticed in some stories that I have read in dA, y'know the random ones you speak of, most of the authors usually have some kind of pattern when will the 'random characters will blurt out something.

Just saying.

By the way, good job on stating out your opinions.
SELI-book Featured By Owner Jan 29, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Somebody (not me, not talented enough) should write a story where the nerd/geek is the antagonist because she thinks she's so cool 'cause she's smart and likes Doctor Who, Firefly, Sherlock, (list any other fandoms you're in here) :)
ode-to-pizza Featured By Owner Oct 15, 2014
Genuis! It would ring true. Most nerds are utter snobs at my school, talking about the 'arrogant' jock who is really kind and humble just because sterotypes...
SELI-book Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Yeah. Me included, a lot of geeks and nerds at our school are really quite rude to the stereotypical 'popular' people, even though (as I found out a little while ago) they are actually nice people.
MakingFunOfStuff Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014
LOL, that would be epic.
smileykaya Featured By Owner Jan 15, 2014  Student Filmographer
FINALLY! Someone who recognises that love interests aren't always necessary! Also, you share a hate with Nostalgia critic, he sees 'The bully' as one of the worst clichés of all time. :)
NPOtheartist Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your picture is scurry.
smileykaya Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015  Student Filmographer
It's gonna get ya! Mua ha ha  >: D
Lol X)
NPOtheartist Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
MakingFunOfStuff Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014
Does he? He sounds like a wise man.
smileykaya Featured By Owner Jan 26, 2014  Student Filmographer

Oh he is indeed :) In fact I'll post you a link to the video with his worst clichés, I have to say I completely agree with everything he says, these clichés are annoying as hell! (technically these are clichés for films, but they sometimes apply to writing.)…

TaranJHook Featured By Owner Nov 25, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
I have a question for you, since I love your articles and would like your opinion on whether or not this is a cliche` idea.

In a project I'm working on, the main character lost his parents in a car accident at a young age and so grew up with his aunt and uncle. The fact that his parents died isn't a main focus in the story, in fact it's not even discussed until about half way through the story, and even then it's more of a brief mention and not really an 'omg feel sorry for me' moment. 
 The only effect that this has had on the character is his general outlook on life, and that being (in a nutshell) 'appreciate what you have because you don't know when it'll be gone'. The character has stated that he doesn't have an specific religious views and doesn't really believe in an afterlife (but if there is an afterlife, then hey cool).  He also says that because he didn't grow up with his parents, he doesn't really know what he lost and therefore isn't really sad by it.

Upon reading that part of my story, would that information be acceptable (guess that'd be the word for it), or would you consider that a cliche, even though it's a minor detail. Being that it's my first big project that I'm trying to make public I'd like it to sound as professional as I can and not sound like some internet web story. Even though I encourage constructive criticism and for people to ask questions if anything confuses them, I still get the 'omg these are so great!' comments.  Like you said in a previous article, if you don't understand it, your audience wont, but if people aren't asking me questions I can only assume that I got my point across and we're all on the same level of understanding about what's happening.

I agree with a lot of what you say in your articles (having seen a lot of it floating around myself) and I want to make sure that I don't fall into the same traps.
therebeunicorns Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2013
[Wall of Text Warning!]

I enjoyed reading this, especially the fun facts. You really hit home with a lot of these cliches, because I really have seen them all before to one extent or another. I just have some bones to pick....I like to pick bones....-W- . . .Ahem, sorry. These are just my opinions, mind you.

"Super bonus fun fact: A character's breast size need NEVER be stated. The end."

Yeah, it's not really necessary for the most part. But what if your character has very large breasts that makes it difficult to shop for clothes? Every shirt in her size that she puts on stretches across the chest, so she ends up having to buy clothing that's larger than her real size or have her clothing custom made. What about the grown woman with an AA-cup who feels self-concious that she might never compare to women she deems "prettier." The women she thinks are "prettier" are all more endowed than her. It brings something out about her character--- she's full of self loathing about her figure and she may be just a tad superficial.

Granted, these are both on extreme ends of the spectrum. My point is that breast size can be used to bring something out about your character. Not always but occasionally a woman feels like she is affected by her breast size. I'm not saying that the character should outright state their breast size: "I was a 32C cup." That's kind of...silly. I'm not saying that every single female character needs to give their bust size either. But I'm just saying, every once in awhile, it could be slipped in another way. Take my first example of having large breasts:

"Martie slipped the shirt over her head. When she went to pull it down, it snagged on her rather large chest, bunching up, and she had to work to pull it to its full length. Looking in the mirror, she could see her midriff was exposed; the fabric over her chest stretched, tautly hugging her body--- the shirt was clearly meant for someone else, someone shorter, someone less endowed. Frustrated, she yanked it off and threw it back in the pile with a decisive huff."

In most cases, this scene would be meaningless, and yeah, I wouldn't even need to include it. But if one of my character's obstacles becomes finding clothes that fit for a date, it could belong.

Turned anything from being abused

Are you saying the abuse itself is cliche? Yeah, I have to admit it is. But if your character was abused, how realistic is it that they don't change at all? What you wrote makes it sound (to me) like you're saying characters can't change from being abused, or else it's a cliche that is associated with "unprofessional" writers. Please correct me if I'm wrong in my assumption, but I have to beg to differ.

I think it is an unprofessional writer that writes an abused character who does not change and is still perfect despite what happened. A professional, on the other hand, would write an abused character whose personality and/or mind was/is affected by the abuse that is/did happen(ing).

It could be a "minor" thing like depression, though depression is not really minor for those who struggle with it. Depression is quite common among abuse survivors. It could be even more minor, like general distrust.  Or it could be major. Many with Dissociative Identity Disorder were abused  as children, and developed different personalities to cope. A different personality would experience the abuse while the real person went into hiding.

It could also go to the other side of the coin. Maybe an OC becomes *stronger* as a result of the abuse, and uses her new-found strength as ire to take revenge or something?

I just feel, as an abuse survivor myself, that change as a result of abuse is realistic. I changed as a result. I also developed a disorder. (My disorder may not totally be the fault of the abuse, in fact I may have had it all my life, but the abuse played a role in it worsening, at least.)

Indeed, I pulled a little bit of a self-insert trick with my OC, though she's not really a self-insert because she differs from me in many respects.....but I did use my experiences to draw from in order to create a realistic character who was abused and developed a mental disorder later in life. I think that, as long as it is done with realism, meaning that the abuse/result is researched or in my case already understood (though I prefer to do more research anyway, as I feel my own understanding isn't enough), such a "cliche" can work for the purpose of your story.
kyrtuck Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
I take it these are cliches that are just exclusive to teen stuff?
MakingFunOfStuff Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2013
I suppose that's one way to say it, but I was thinking mostly online stuff. Maybe because most online stuff is made by teenagers, it seems? :shrug: Or just unprofessional stuff, basically.
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