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Top 4 Manuscript-Murdering Clichés to Avoid in Your Novel Explained by a Professional Book Editor

Updated: Dec 4, 2021

Novel Writing Cliches to Avoid

Professional UK book editor lists the top 4 writing clichés to avoid in your manuscript!

Clichés are everywhere in fiction writing, especially amongst new writers, or even experienced writers who may need a little nudge! Certain words and phrases are fine here and there, like it's raining cats and dogs or Faith's bright yellow coat made her stick out like a sore thumb, but if you want your readers to read past page 1, you need to make sure you avoid these 4 common clichés!

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1. Opening Your Novel With Your Protagonist Waking up in the Morning

Opening your story with your main character waking up in the morning, especially to an alarm clock, is one of the biggest clichés, so try to think about where else your novel could begin to keep the narrative interesting.

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Think about how many times you ask your family and friends about their morning routine - you probably don't, because why would that interest you? Well, it's the same with your readers, they probably won't be bothered about your protagonist brushing their teeth or getting dressed.

2. Your Protagonist Carrying Out a Mundane Morning Routine

Having your protagonist carry out a mundane morning routine has been overdone so much, so if you're serious about writing a great novel, definitely consider cutting these scenes completely unless something happens to advance the plot or add something to the story.

For example, if you're writing paranormal fiction that focuses on ghosts and spirits, you may want to show your readers what strange things happen when your main character is alone in the morning or evening. Or if you're writing historical fiction, you might wish to show your protagonist's morning routine to display how it's different to modern day.

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3. The Main Character Looking into a Mirror

New writers often have their main character look into a mirror at some point in the beginning of the story so they can describe their physical appearance, but this trick is such a cliché now, so definitely think about how else you could describe your characters.

For example, perhaps you could describe one of your characters through the perspective of another, or explain how an action has affected their appearance (e.g., a chase scene could mess up their blonde locks, or a princess' sister could style their brown curls for a ball).

4. Describing the Weather at the Start of Chapter One

Beginning the first chapter with an extensive description of the weather can sometimes be considered a little cliché, or at least overdone, unless the weather somehow contributes to the opening of the story or reflects the protagonist's emotions.

So, unless you absolutely need to describe the weather to create a certain tone or to set the scene, try to avoid this cliché at all costs and consider another way to open chapter one.

I really hope you found this post useful if you got this far, and I wish you luck with your writing journey! :)

- Chelsea



Hey! I'm Chelsea and I'm a professional book editor at Stand Corrected Editing, my editorial business in the UK. If you need professional book editing services and are currently looking for a manuscript editor, please get in touch and we can get started today!

With my book editing and proofreading services, I hope to spread my knowledge and expertise on how to make your novel a success, and be a mentor to others who desperately want to pursue a fruitful career as an author!


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