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Avoiding cliché characters in fiction

Turning a dumb jock into a zombie is one way to cliché characters in fiction (Image: A green zombie quarterback throws a football)
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Take a widely-known cliché character – the ditzy cheerleader, the dumb jock, the workaholic lawyer, the no-good cheating husband, the cat lady, etc. – and turn it on its head. How could a woman own 30 cats surprise the reader in new ways? How could you write a story about a cheerleading squad in a way that the audience would never expect?


Then take a look at your own characters: Where are they prone to clichés? How could you surprise your audience in new ways, giving them a character they’ve never seen before?