I’ve mad a post about character motivations before. I’ve really thought about what it is that hinders a character’s motivations to shine through. The issue is really a surface– level one. It’s cliché characters. When a character is cliché, it’s rather hard for them to carry the story through. Yes, it’s the plot that really carries the story, but characters also carry a lot of weight in the story’s process. Tropes and clichés are very easy to fall into, especially for writers like me who are still rather young in the process. Even so, there ways that I have learned to overcome it.
Understand Tropes/ Clichés
There was a quote by Edmund Burke that spoke perfectly to understanding history. Burke said “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it”. I’ve used this understanding in developing my characters. A good way to avoid typical tropes is to understand what they are and why they are cliché. I will be using my own characters as examples. I have a character who is a “nice guy”. This archetype is used in many stories, movies and shows. I’m sure we can all think of several characters who could fall into this type. Understanding what makes this character is a way that I have tried to avoid my character being cliché. Often times, it characters that seem to his every point that makes a character a “nice guy” to a tee are the ones that tend to be cliché. However, being able to add depth into this archetype is what sets them a part. That is the next way that I have worked to try and avoid making cliché characters.
The concept of depth involves both adding depth to the character’s archetype and the character as a person. When you meet an actual person, they don’t tend to have a static personality. Often times, you see a lack of depth in characters comes from knowing their hobbies as to who they are. I struggled with this one. My main character is a photographer. I had a habit of relying on this to display his creativity as opposed to showing it through a more in depth way. The idea of depth is a perfect example of showing as opposed to telling.
These are the two main ways that I have learned to avoid clichés.