Evoking the familiar in fiction is important – vital even.
But just as often, you want to do something unexpected, to surprise or delight the reader. One of the best ways to do this is to avoid using cliches. Old advice, we know. And certainly not all cliches can be avoided in all circumstances.
Here’s a great list of movie cliches, which are exactly the kind of cliches that appear in fiction too.
So, how can you use the cliches to get a good story idea? Well, try this – choose one or two cliches from the list and try subverting them. Maybe flip a cliche on its head by changing something about it. Take this movie cliche from the Animals section:
Dogs always know who’s bad, and bark at them.
A cliche, right? Not to say this never happens in real life, but try subverting this.
What else could a dog recognise? Good people? People about to die? Rich people? Liars? Celebrities in disguise? The list goes on – it really depends on the needs of your story.