10 Cliches in Mystery Novels

Have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? You know, when you feel as though something has already happened, but it’s happening again?

Sometimes that happens in books, but when that happens it’s called a cliche.

A cliche is something that is overused and has no original thought put into it.

Cliches are everywhere. In books, TV shows, blog posts (like this one), and in real life conversations and actions. Some cliches we can put up with, some we can’t. The bottom line is, they’re never going to go away.

Then again, there are so many ideas out there that there are bound to be some repeats.

I mean, have you ever had that feeling of deja vu? You know, when you feel as though something has already happened, but it’s happening again?


10 Cliches in Mystery Novels Rachel Poli

Some cliches are easy to avoid, but as stated earlier, some aren’t. There are only so many original ideas out there and the bare bones of most mysteries are similar. So it’s hard to not have a cliche here or there.

There are a lot of cliches to list, especially in any kind of writing, but here are just a few.

1. The hard-core/alcoholic/depressed detective.

Being a police officer or detective is hard work and stressful. We get it, we understand. But not everyone hates their job and there’s a reason they became a detective in the first place. They don’t need to wallow in self-pity or be drunk late in the night in order to have that “a-ha!” moment.

2. The police don’t know how to do their job.

You see this in a lot of superhero-type stories. A bad guy comes along causing chaos. The police try to stop him, they fail miserably at a loss of what to do. Then the good guy comes along and saves the day. The police work a lot harder than we give them credit for. Even if it’s fiction, they know how to do their job.

3. A death is misjudged (example, a homicide ruled as a suicide), but only the protagonist figures out the truth.

As I just stated, police do know how to do their job. Even if a death looks like a suicide, no matter how well the culprit covered it up, there is always evidence. There is always forensics. There are always autopsies and science and common sense.

4. The current case forces the protagonist to confront the past.

The detective has a dark past (that’s probably why he’s depressed and an alcoholic from point number one). He’s been avoiding it his whole life, but this specific case has something or someone come along that makes him go back in time.

5. The detective has some sort of “power” (example, photographic memory, psychic, etc.) that they depend on to solve cases.

Having supernatural-type elements added into the mystery isn’t necessarily a bad thing if you can make it unique enough. But if it seems as though the detective is the only one who can solve the case because he has that photographic memory… there’s a problem somewhere.

6. A female detective who is torn between two hot men whether it’s another cop or a suspect or victim or whatever.

Women fall in love, yes. But men fall in love as well. And just because there’s a sexy female detective does not mean there has to be a romantic love-triangle. You don’t see a hot male detective torn between two women that often, do you? Nope. They’re just staying up way too late drinking the case away.

7. A female character who is eye-candy to the detective, but also a crucial aspect of the crime (plot twist: she’s the culprit!)

Stop making women eye-candy. Just stop.

8. Detectives who have exceptional knowledge of one specific thing and always happen to have cases related to what they know.

The detective minored in cosmetology in school? Oh, cool. There was a murder in a nail salon? Oh, that’s ironic.

9. A rookie partner assigned to a veteran detective after their partner dies.

This happens in real life, this happens in fiction. But every single time, the rookie is way too eager and optimistic to start while the experienced officer is bitter. In the end, the rookie changes his partner’s view on life. How touching.

10. The detective has relationship issues.

They’re separated, divorced, a single parent… Yes, they work long hours and have a stressful job, but don’t they deserve a significant other who wholeheartedly supports them no matter what? It’s not as rare as you would think.

While researching some cliches I realized that I’m guilty of some of these. But you know what? If you can turn it around and make it unique, you should be in the clear.

What are some cliches that bother you or some that you like?

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A Dumb Story

Here We Go…

So I realized that I haven’t really talked too much about my writing on here lately. I can’t really say that things haven’t been going well, but I guess they haven’t really been going all that great, either.

Ever since I got stuck with my novel Cybertra back in July for Camp NaNoWriMo, I’ve been kind of stuck on all of my writing. I’ve been trying, but I don’t really know what to do with myself.

I went on vacation for a week in July and that was one whole week that I didn’t write. I played Pokemon instead. So that also slowed me down a bit, too. But I can’t complain because I think I needed a break from writing for a little bit.

But when I came back from vacation I realized that I really needed to get back into the swing of things. I have three young adult novels completed, why aren’t I editing them? I have three other novels started, why aren’t I finishing them?

Kris and I went to Barnes and Noble together last week. I took out my laptop and was beside myself. What was I supposed to write? I had no idea. Kris found a cool writing prompt app on her phone in which we both downloaded. She wasn’t too sure what to write, either, so we each picked a prompt. Mine was, “Everything is ruined because…” Again, what was I supposed to write about?

In the end, I wrote a small short story that was about four pages long. I’ll post it on here tomorrow. It was probably the dumbest thing I had ever written in my life. I wasn’t too crazy about the way I had written it, the story line was kind of weird, and the characters were just…odd. It certainly was not my best work.

But it was soon after that that I began to write again. That same day at Barnes and Noble, I whipped out my Hunter & Comet story and wrote a little bit of that. Then, for some strange reason, I got into the mood of writing one of those cliche high school drama novels. I have a couple of ideas for those and ended up starting one. It’s called Union Academy. I have no idea what the plot really is…it’s just one of those drama stories where things never seem to go right for a group of high school girls.

The time we went to Barnes and Noble after that, the latest time we’ve gone, I ended up writing that. And I got a good chunk done, too. So I think I’m over my little writer’s block. Not only that, but I actually started editing Hunter again.

It just goes to show that whatever writing you’re stuck on, just write something, anything. Even if it’s terrible. And it will help.

Home Alone

Not Really, I Got The Two Dogs, Cat, and Turtle…

Comet is actually being quiet right now…I gave him a bone, that’s why. Chip is whining because I did not give her a bone. The reason for that is because she has about a million bones hidden throughout this house. If she really wants a bone, she can use that tiny powerful nose God gave her and find at least one of the many bones. I know she has at least two…one is buried in my pillow and the other is buried in my blankets. Damn dog. Hunter is howling at absolutely nothing, but I think it’s just too quiet for him…or maybe he thinks he’s home alone. I don’t know why he cries like that. Raph, I think, is finally going into “hibernation mode” like she should have a couple weeks ago when the weather started getting cold, but instead she got more hyper.

She flipped her house over and then began using it as a playground…

Right. She should not be doing that in the fall. However, I noticed that she has been “redecorating” less and has not been trying to walk through the tank glass as much to get out. I think she thinks she can walk through walls. No, instead she has been like this:

On her way into the pool…then she said, “nope” and wasn’t having it.

Yes, she was in that position for a very long time. Of course, as I type this, she is knocking on the glass shouting, “Let me out!” I can’t complain, though. I like working while she’s walking around. I feel as though I have company. This is what it comes down to…I have no friends.

Just kidding, I do. But they’re all at school right now. You wanna know why I’m not at school? I only had one class today and it was cancelled. I am super excited! Not because I was able to sleep in, no, because it was my health class. And my teacher for my health class bites. I mean today we were supposed to meet in the library to do research on our projects. Of course, I’m doing something else that I will not go into because it’s a long story, but to keep it short and sweet, I’m exempt from the project. So I don’t even know what I would be doing, anyway. It would probably have been nothing.

But this is great because now I have the whole day to myself…well, until I have to go to work. But I would much rather be at work than go to school…especially when I have health. What am I to do with myself? I could go some more homework done so I have less to do while working on NaNo. I could work on outlining my NaNo some more. I could clean, I could sing and dance, I could play video games…preferably Pokemon. But I just don’t know because I am just way too excited right now!

Speaking of NaNo, I am outlining Saving Each Other (SEO) and I decided that I might as well write it for NaNo. It’s almost the middle of October and I don’t know how long it will take me to outline SEO plus another novel and then decide between the two. I’m on chapter twelve for SEO and I have no idea how many more chapters there will be.

The other reason as to why I decided to write it for NaNo is because I was thinking a lot about it the other day…well, yesterday. In the shower. I don’t know about any of you people out there, but I do my best thinking when I am in the shower…or trying to sleep. Which is probably why I never actually sleep…huh. Anyway, in the shower I was thinking about the novel and thinking about the outline and realized, “I’m on chapter twelve, but really, nothing’s happened yet.” I mean, let’s face it: at this point, I’ll be on chapter 100 and the plot will just be beginning. Then I realized…what is the plot?

Seriously, I really had to ask myself this question. I honestly had no idea what the plot was. I came up with a cool title, I made up some awesome characters, I even came up with a cover for the novel. But what is the plot? Someone is after them, yes, I understand that. But who? And why? I got nothing. But when I was in the shower, I came up with a wonderful idea. I am not going to tell you what that idea is because I don’t want to give anything away, but…I guess you could say that it’s kind of “cliche” for a fantasy novel. But that’s alright, because I have tricks up my sleeve.

The summary for SEO is in the post right below this one…just so you know. So scroll down. A lot. Or…turn to the last page or something, I don’t really know how my blog works…I never really look at the finished product. I just type, proofread on here and hit “publish.” The summary was something quick I whipped up for you guys. It’s not the “final” summary and still needs a bit of work. Just a warning…

So I still don’t know what I am going to do with myself today, but I know first things first: get some more coffee. I drank it all while writing this. Don’t worry…it’s decaf. We ran out of caffeinated. Boo. 🙁