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🐍 The Epic Tale of Nate the Snake

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✏️ The Sandbox: What is a Cliché?


 A cliché is a phrase, motif, trope, or other element within an artistic work that has become common enough to be seen as an expected part of a work.


This is very subjective and dependent on the consumer's culture and knowledge level: for example, an American buying their very first issue of a Japanese manga might find it new and unique, but in its home country of Japan the same manga may be considered typical. A person playing their first Role-Playing Game might not realize the Mysterious Waif is far from original. Even then, though, just through Pop-cultural Osmosis or a sort of "sixth sense", people not familiar with the cliché might be able to spot it as such.


The term cliché is also sometimes used to refer to a verbal meme. This usage is almost exclusively reserved for old folk sayings. Expressions such as "the early bird gets the worm" and "raining cats and dogs" are examples. Of course, just like internet memes, cliches mutate over time and iterations. One person might say "The early bird gets the worm, but who wants worms?", "The early worm feeds the bird", or "It's raining cats and frogs!"


In spite of the negative stigma, many clichés are fully accepted by the audience, for the same reason as something formulaic works: because of its familiarity. The sheer number of Police Procedurals, Medical Dramas, and Romance Novels with summaries that are practically interchangeable exist because people like them anyway, as they ignore the clichés and instead focus on the great stories and characters. 

It has been known in the mainstream Movie and TV industries to have a familiar cliché plot, most of the time they are a profit because of the good quality. However, most studios mostly do not take risks on development of unorthodox stories because of the risks of not gaining money back. It rare, Christopher Nolan is an example of a studio giving him the "Free for All" card, making original movies mostly  without cliches and most of his works have been highly successful.


Note that "cliché" is not an adjective: if something has become a cliché, it's "clichéd".


It is best to avoid as many cliches as possible, If you have a story but there's a cliche trope in your way, you may conquer it and reconstruct it, use the trope if you don't have a choice or avoid and find another way. It's okay to use a trope if you have to, just be creative and don't be too cliche with it.

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