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Cliches and Cleeshays

Cleeshay:  N:  A plot device, idea, literary concept, or any thing within a work of art that people misidentify as a cliche.  I personally made the word up, because I think there HAS to be a word for fake cliches.

Cleeshays are things that occur in stories, and get accidentally called cliché.  Some are good, some bad, but it’s almost impossible to write a story without having one thing happen in it that also happened in another story.  Most of the things that become cleeshays are actually either tropes or technical limitations of the medium in which the work is made.

Clichés are things that lazy authors do instead of doing something original, because doing something original means you don’t get to let all the authors who came before do your writing for you.

Examples of clichés from the Dictionary of RPG Clichés include:

  • The villain always threatens to destroy the world:  Because the “ultimate battle between good and evil for the fate of the world” is supposed to be automatically engaging, doesn’t require the author to write likeable characters for the heroes, and automatically makes the heroes the good guys in the end no matter what they do, because literally everyone owes them their lives afterwards.
  • The three “Hey, I know you!” rules:  Video games in general are full of stock/obligatory/uninspired character types, and it takes more effort to create well rounded characters than it does to use stereotypes.

Examples of cleeshays from the Dictionary of RPG Clichés include:

  • 7/11 rule:  If a game doesn’t have a day/night cycle, then it makes no sense for shops to close during certain times.  Most console RPGs don’t implement a day/night cycle, but would they really benefit from one?  Furthermore, would it really make the games better if you could only visit shops at certain times?
  • 99:  How does a game mechanic become a cliché when it has no meaning in a literary sense?  When people saw the number 666 in horror stories before it was cliché, it worked as foreshadowing that there was going to be a demon in the story.  If you see the number 666 in a creepypasta now, you are going to roll your eyes at the fact that you’ve seen it a million times.  How exactly does a game mechanic “lose its meaning” from overuse, especially when it wasn’t added by the writers for any narrative purposes?

Examples of clichés in creepypasta would be:

  • The number 666.
  • Red / black eyes / or missing eyes / hollow sockets / “empty, soulless eyes”.

Examples of cleeshays in video game creepypasta include:

  • The game won’t turn off, and the main character can’t shut off their computer.
  • Curiosity “forced” the main character to keep playing.
  • The main character is compelled to keep playing by an unknown/external force.
  • The hero’s friends are trapped inside the game, or the game will kill him if he turns it off, and that’s why he can’t turn the game off.

Did you see a pattern in the cleeshays I described?  The pattern here is that they encompass ALL THE WAYS THE AUTHOR OF A GAMING CREEPYPASTA CAN KEEP THE PLAYER FROM JUST TURNING THE GAME OFF IN AN UNSATISFYING PREMATURE ENDING!

If you’ve called a creepypasta “cliché” for using the four cleeshays I listed above, you actually just hate gaming creepypasta in general, decided to hate the story you’re commenting on without giving it a chance, and are looking for nitpicks to justify your predetermined opinion.

Whether a trope is a cliche or not is based on how often it's used, not how much you dislike it.  If tropes were people, cliches would be Nazis, because people seem to think the word cliche means "thing in fiction I don't like".  In film, using pie-tins on strings as UFOs is not a cliche, because it hasn't been overused, but it only took one instance for audiences to get tired of it.

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