Young Writers Society

Home » Forums » Resources » Knowledge Base » Writing Tutorials

Hero Clichés to Avoid

User avatar
1201 Reviews


Gender: Female
Points: 9039
Reviews: 1201
Sun Dec 20, 2009 8:12 pm
View Likes
Elinor says...

If you’ve succeeded in trudging through the difficult mud pool of villain clichés, you’re not quite safe. After all, you still have another group of major characters to work with, and these are the ones that your story will be focusing upon.
If the success of the story depends on good villains by a large bit, it depends on good heroes by double that amount. After all, we are with the hero on his journey from beginning to end. Because of that, when a hero is a clichéd, dull character, it can be ten times more annoying.
Therefore, you want to make sure that the hero of your story is not a clichéd character, because it could determine whether your reader continues with the story or not.

1. “The Mary Sue”
This term is quite infamous in the literary world. It comes from a 1973 Star Trek fanfiction, which focused on a character called Mary Sue. She was fifteen years old, a lieutenant, and had had romantic relationships with many of the canon characters. These days, Mary Sues exist for self-insertion and providing wish fulfillment for the author, and they annoy the heck out of us.
Why this is a cliché: Even though Mary Sues are often unintentional, they stick out like sore thumbs. When we read a story in which a character is a Mary Sue, we frown, because it’s simply a sign of bad writing. The reader gets the impression that the author was too lazy to spend time with proper character development.
How to avoid this cliché:First, you should set realistic goals for your character to achieve. Could a soldier who has been in the army for two months become a general? No, probably not. Secondly, no one is perfect, so be sure to give your character some flaws.

2. “The Farmboy”
This cliché is so infamous I had no choice but to include it. We’ve seen it everywhere, from Star Wars to Eragon to Lord of the Rings. They mostly appear in fantasy stories, although they don’t always have to. In addition, they don’t necessarily have to live on a farm. They could just have humble origins.
Why this is a cliché: When an author uses ‘The Hero’s Journey’ Archetype, there is a common misconception that the main character must live on a farm. As such, many writers have felt the need to follow the mold.

How to avoid this cliché: It’s plain and simple. Having the main character live or work on a farm isn’t completely out of the question. Either the main character doesn’t live on a farm, or there is some other element of the story that keeps us interested.

There you have it. Keep in mind that I have only scratched the surface of hero clichés. However, these are the ones that you should really watch out for; the worst of the worst. And remember, originality is the key to success.

All our dreams can come true — if we have the courage to pursue them.

-- Walt Disney

User avatar
57 Reviews

Gender: Male
Points: 7250
Reviews: 57
Wed Jan 13, 2010 12:55 am
Merlin34 says...

I think that farmboy heroes could be cool. They just need to get out of the "Dark Lord destroys farmboy's family" plot. Or maybe it could be a different kind of farm.
Advice on writing, funny articles, and more.

User avatar
147 Reviews

Gender: Male
Points: 7650
Reviews: 147
Sun Mar 14, 2010 5:48 pm
LookUpThere says...

Hero cliche to avoid?

Romance? It's not bad at all, but it's often very interesting for the hero to fall in love with a member of his team (Talking superhero.demigod like adventure of groups here). I'd really like to see one very humble character who doesn't fight the final battle for his girlfriend, but rather for his friend's girlfriend :D Get it?

User avatar
113 Reviews

Gender: Female
Points: 2664
Reviews: 113
Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:07 am
View Likes
emmylou1995 says...

Interesting. Thanks for the warnings.
When all you have is nothing, there is alot to go around.

'Hush, hush!' I whispered; 'people can have many cousins and of all sorts, Miss Cathy, without being any the worse for it; only they needn't keep their company, if they be disagreeable and bad.
— Emily Bronte, Wuthering Heights