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Story cliches, word fumbles, cringes.....and fixes. Part 3



Part 3 of 3.

A reminder, these are my opinion on what are cliché aspects of MJ FF.  If you find this offensive, you don't have to read. My goal is to essentially get authors' minds to start to play with ways they can make some of these things unique and/or an idea of what they might want to avoid. As such, I am including some suggestions on how to avoid them/remedy them.  Remember that a cliché isn't necessarily bad. Too many clichés can kill a story, but used sparingly, they can be fun. 

Please note that the ideas for this compilation were not solely from my imagination. They also come from reader feedback and pieces across the interwebz.





The One-dimensional Villain.  So often this is Diana, Joseph, an ex, Jermaine, etc. This character is frequently described in terms that leave the reader assuming that he/she is "all bad".  The character is ruthless, with minimal attention to moral codes, and constantly inflicts pain upon the OG and/or Michael.

  • FIX:
    • Flesh out this character. Give the character a reason to be this way. Try to show sensitive moments involving this character and/or moments in which it is apparent that the character is more than just "bad".



Damsel in Distress.  The OG/lead female is constantly in need of rescuing and incapable of handling her own problems.  Often this overlaps with Michael paying off her debts, taking care of legal issues, handling familial problems for her, giving her a job, etc.  This is distinguished from a healthy relationship in that it never seems like Michael gets as much back and the female always relies on him to have her troubles managed.

  • FIX:
    • Have one of them point it out. Just as with the Codependent Couple, this is an excellent opportunity to show one or more of your characters assuming responsibility and maturing. In other words - character development. Different from the CC, this damsel doesn't have to be his girlfriend or wife. This could be a sibling, a friend, an orphan he looks after, or a daughter.



The Blatant Foreshadowing.  Common lead-ins to this are "little did he know", "he missed the sparkle in X's eye", or a blatant hint in the author's note at the end of the chapter. Yes, it's an easy way to clue the reader into a plot twist, but it's also a way to quickly undercut suspense. In essence, it breaks scene.

  • FIX:
    • Use other tools to create suspense or hint at what is happening. If out of ideas, look at my segment on suspense.



Hello, I'm Michael. What's your name? I want to Marry You.  This is when the OG and Michael barely know each other/have barely entered into their relationship, and already they are in love. The sweet-nothings are layered on during sex, despite the superficiality of the relationship.

  • FIX:
    • Outlining, planning, character development, and most of all, pacing. Review the earlier segments



Conflict, Where Art Thou?  There's no conflict.  Conflict drives a story and maintains reader interest. A story may have a GREAT OG or excellent portrayal of Michael, some lively dialogue, and be written brilliantly, but if there is no conflict, interest will dwindle.

  • FIX:
  • Stop updating until you find one. When you think up a conflict, try to fully understand the details, connotations, and consequences of this conflict. For instance:
  • What does this mean for each character?
  • What do you want to see happen to each character?
  • How should you portray the conflict if you expect for that result to happen (believably)?
  • What needs to happen before the conflict can happen?
  • How is the conflict going to unfold?
  • After all of this: Is the conflict still plausible?



Too Many.  This is essentially the summary of the story, as it is a lesson in excess. There are too many characters, too many scenes, too many POVs, too many similar names, too many plot lines..... basically, too many too many-s.

  • FIX:
    • Hit the chopping block. Find the center of your story, and examine what adds to it, and what is just excessive.



Theeee Seeeeex Sceeeeeene with tooooooo maaaaaaaany vowels. I get it. The author meant to emphasize how much both (each?) persons are enjoying having sex, but somewhere along the way, the author grabbed a few too many vowels and wouldn't let them go.  Remember that dropping the vowels doesn't mean you are dropping the emphasis.

  • FIX:
    • Think of using words like "more" or "faster".
    • Italicize the words you want to emphasize.
    • Pick and choose the words you will use rather than just "say". Changing that to "moaned" or "screamed", will give the same effect as all the extra vowels.



The Far-Fetched Run In. When multiple characters run into each other at a random location, leading to secrets being revealed, conflict, and hurt.  Before continuing I will note that yes, this does happen in smaller towns, but it happens at a greater frequency in FF than in reality. Sometimes this even happens during a vacation/trip.

  • FIX:
    • Rethink it. Could it happen in a more believable setting?
    • In the case of an affair or a hidden relationship, could it be that a bunch of signs ultimately tip one person off that something is amiss?



Even more words that are confused on MJFiction

(please note that these only come from fics and NOT RPs.)


liz lemon


Said vs. Meant

Alleviated (relieved) vs. Elevated (raised)

Creek (stream of water) vs. Creak (a noise)

Ranged (Their ages ranged from 16 to 20) vs. Rang (past tense of ‘ring')

Diffidently (shyly) vs. Definitely (absolutely)

Word (what each of these are) vs. World (the universe)

Entrepreneur (a person who starts a business) vs. Businessperson (a person who works in business)


For a ridiculously large collection of these, see: http://public.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/errors.html

Chapter End Notes:


Gripe. Gloat. Rage. Rave.

Thanks as always for your feedback and ideas :)


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