Everyone talks about cliches with the assumption that a trope being cliche is sufficient reason for saying we should avoid it, and an obvious response might be, "obviously the trope doesn't become bad just because it's been used a lot. What is this, reverse bandwagon fallacy?"

While I think in a lot of circles the aversion to cliches is overdone, I thought I'd write about the actual reasons they're bad.

The main reason is of course because of novelty fun: humans inherently enjoy novelty with all other things the same; this is actually a prime emotion. But there's a subtler reason.

Cliches, at least early in a story, give the reader valid reason to suspect that you aren't a good enough storyteller to make a coherent story on your own and that you're just copying elements from other stories you've seen. Even if it doesn't make your story objectively worse, it makes it less enjoyable for the reader at least while they're reading that part, and might result in a reader who would've enjoyed your story dropping it early even if they have the same beliefs about storytelling as you do.

This page was last modified (UTC)