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Chris's Colossal Cliché Count Writing Challenge

Quick links on this page:

rules & how to submit - about the cliché challenge - read cliché overloaded stories

Cliche Writing Challenge

Chris Writefear, explaining the concept of cliché overuse to a frightened writer

Welcome to Chris's Colossal Cliché Count Writing Challenge, run in conjunction with the UK's first ever festival dedicated to flash fiction, taking place in Bath.

The cliché challenge opens for submissions on Saturday 24th June 2017 to festival attendees.

Flash Fiction Festival Logo

The cliché challenge will open for general submissions on this website on Saturday 1st July 2017.

Please don't submit stories until after this date.

Rules & How To Submit

As sure as eggs are eggs, the rules are nice and simple:

  • 150 words maximum
  • please include a title for your story (not included in the word count)
  • use as many clichés as you can (clichéd phraseology, characters, plot lines etc.)
  • entry is the bargain basement price of: FREE
  • anyone can submit
  • 1 entry per person
  • no profanity please - all the writing challenges are shared with children
  • your cliché-crammed stories will be published on this page
  • every time we receive 100 stories, we'll publish them in a book
  • any money made through anthology sales will be donated to charity
  • by submitting, you accept the terms and conditions
  • when anthologies are published, you will be involved in the book launch process
  • submit your story using the comments form below

So far, we've received 2 stories. We need 98 more to publish the anthology.

The 2 stories that have been published are being used as examples. This challenge is NOT YET OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS. Please see the notes at the top of this page.

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About the Cliché Writing Challenge

Many writers overuse clichés.

To stand out from the crowd (see what I did there?), a writer needs to develop an original voice that the reader can identify and engage with. Clichés detract from this and often lead to rejection from magazine editors and competition judges.

What Is A Cliché?

The term 'cliché' doesn't just refer to overused figures of speech. Clichés can also be stereotypes or opinions or characters or plots that are trite and indicate a lack of original thought. For example :

  • hackneyed phraseology;
    • 'in the blink of an eye'
  • clichéd characters;
    • the drunk cop who wants to solve the case he's been working on for 20 years before he retires
  • clichéd storylines;
    • the woman who is secretly using a dating website and goes on a romantic encounter only to discover the man she's been flirting with online is her husband
  • you can see many more cliché examples here and here

To raise awareness of this common writing mistake, we are asking for flash fiction stories up to 150 words in length, stuffed with as many clichés as humanly possible.

The first anthology will be released when we've received 100 stories.

About the Charity the Cliché Writing Challenge Supports

Proceeds from sales of the cliché writing challenge anthologies will be donated to Book Aid International. There's a raffle taking place at the festival, proceeds from which will also be donated to the charity.

Book Aid International Logo

Book Aid International endeavour to make books available in parts of the world where they are hard to come by. Book Aid believes everyone should have the chance to read, so they support libraries to make books accessible to around 24 million people a year.

How The Cliché Writing Challenge Came To Exist

I've been in contact with Jude Higgins for quite a few years. Jude is involved with running the Bath Flash Fiction Award, the Bath Short Story Award and many other writing projects in Bath and the surrounding area. I list many of them in the competition lists on my website.

I heard about the inaugural Flash Fiction Festival via the Bath Flash Fiction Award email newsletters. I contacted Jude and asked if I could be involved. She said, "Yes," and invited me to run a flash fiction writing challenge workshop at the festival.

I'll be at the festival all weekend on the 24th and 25th of June 2017. You can learn more about the workshops I'll be running here. If you attend, please come and say hello.

Like the other writing challenges on this website, the cliché challenge will continue running indefinitely. So it will be open after the festival is over.

Every time we receive 100 cliché-crammed stories, we'll publish a book. If we don't receive 100 submissions (this is highly unlikely, given how many submissions have been received by the other challenges I run, but I have to mention it in case...), it's a bit of fun, you can read all the stories here on the site and you now know about Book Aid International and will feel compelled to give them money as often as you can.

Everyone wins.

You can read more about the cliché writing challenge in a post I've written for the Flash Fiction Festival blog.

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Clichéd Stories

Below you will find all the cliché-riddled stories submitted to the challenge. I hope you enjoy reading them.

The stories are published in the order they were received.

The 2 stories published below are being used as examples. This challenge is NOT YET OPEN FOR SUBMISSIONS. Please see the notes at the top of this page.

Story 001

A Piece Of Cake

by Christopher Fielden

I'm as old as the hills, but can move faster than a speeding bullet.

In the blink of an eye, I have my cake and eat it.

"Harold, you better not be eating my jam sponge. It's for WI." I've heard walls have ears, but eyes?

"Mwmf…" Crumbs spray everywhere.

It's so quiet you could hear a pin drop. I sense Maude getting bent out of shape. Then she appears, as if from nowhere. Caught red handed…

"You've been retired for three weeks, Harold." Maude's voice is cool as a cucumber. "You're already driving me up the wall. I can't take it anymore. You're a self-centred, selfish old fool."

"That's about the size of it." I have a way with words. I take another bite of sponge.

"That's the icing on the cake. Get out, Harold. You can live in your shed."

I guess that's the way the cookie crumbles…

Story 002

The Ring of Neverard

by Allen Ashley

Arian, brave neophyte farmhand, and absconding Princess Lealia bowed before the white-haired man in the flowing silver robes.

"Oh mighty Wizard Ganeagle," quoth Arian, "we have fought monsters and dragons and scared scarecrows in this quest."

"And sailed seven seas," Lealia added.

"My children," the wizard replied, "you have done well despite your youth. Truly, I feel that we are winning the battle of Good against Evil. Now, will you faithfully ever serve your people?"

"Yes, magus," they both responded.

"Then by the sacred prophecy of the ages, I grant you the power of the golden ring of Neverard."

The boy liked this bit when the wizard set off whizzes, flashes and bangs. But the princess was a year his senior and enquired, "Ganeagle, we have solemnly completed all twelve tasks required on this mission."

"True, my child."

"Then," waving a runic card, "I believe the correct response is: Bingo."

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