Ah, so you've finally acknowledged it, have you? You admit to having an insatiable desire to learn to write horrible fantasy cliches. You want in on the world of archmages and dragons and assassin thieves, and in your desperation, you've turned.... well.... here. You must be pretty desperate.

But enough. There is a skilled art to the writing of the fantasy cliche. Your desire for expertise and learning is to be encouraged at all costs. For this purpose, I have composed a simple guide to help you. It takes you step by step through everything you'll need to know. It is not difficult to follow, and before you know it, you'll be spewing forth cliches like the best of them. Each chapter shall help you to deal with a different Important Element in the writing of your cliche, and if you follow all of the steps, you'll have a trite novella of your very own before you know it.

The Important Elements are these: characters, plot, secondary characters and overused plot devices. I will also include a chapter covering the various ways employed by savvy cliche writers to get people to read their masterpieces.

Now, in order to begin this treatise, we must start at.... the beginning. And the beginning of every story is this: you need characters. It's just one of those things.

If you are going to write a cliche, however, not just any character will do. You must choose the proper sort of character. That is what we will talk about in this chapter.

Insipid main characters are dreadfully important if you want to write a truly outstanding cliche. There are a few stock prototypes which are always used by the more seasoned writers, and I have endeavored to supply you with that list. It is not extensive, but it should give you something from which you can build. These characters have been used endless times, and their worth has been well proven. It is now your turn to write about them.

A simple list of possible prototypes goes something like this:

The Orphaned child with Unimaginable Potential is always a good choice. He must be from a small farming village, and he is usually young and naive. The evil archmage will be jealous of the boy's powers. The boy will invariably end up saving the world.

The Hardened Street Assassin, who may be either male or female, is another good one. The Assassin has a rough exterior, generally due to a traumatic childhood. He/she usually has unpleasant flashbacks to this past, preferably on a regular basis. He or she will also be sworn to exact revenge upon someone important. It is customary for The Assassin to fall in love with whomever he or she is supposed to be killing

The Rebellious Princess is one of today's most popular choices for the fantasy cliche. She must be headstrong, with a fiery temper. It is customary for her to be forced into a marriage alliance with her cousin Alfred, who is trying to take over the kingdom. The Princess usually either runs away, or is kidnaped right before her wedding.

Unfortunately, due to time constraints and the limited attention span of the author, this treatise will not exhaust the subject of main characters. Several other choices are also available, such as the Kind-hearted Kidnapper, the Amnesic Nobleperson, or the Female Knight. These choices are readily acceptable in the realms of fantasy cliche.

Pick a character that sounds appealing to you.

After you have a main character, you must also have an evil villain. This, too, is the way of a story. The following list includes a few of the perennial favorites:

The Evil Archmage is probably the most popular choice for the exemplary fantasy cliche. Generally, the Evil Archmage is a bitter, twisted individual who is plotting the downfall of the kingdom. He must always have significant magical powers. He also may or may not be the leader of a mage's guild, depending upon the wishes of the author.

Secondly, but usually not quite as evil, is the ever-present option of the Corrupt High Council. The Corrupt High Council is customarily a group of men and/or women who are becoming complacent and untrustworthy in their position. They must do nasty deeds, such as cutting down tropical hardwood forests or shopping at Wal-Mart, but The High Council itself is rarely the Ultimate villain. However, it is acceptable for several of the more Corrupt members to be in direct cahoots with the Ultimate villain.

The Evil Relative is also a great fall-back. This Relative may be an aunt, uncle, father, mother, sister, brother, cousin, or just about any other relation conceivable. The Evil Relative is usually either the heir to the throne, or trying to become heir to the throne through a forced marriage.

Other options for Villain include: Insane Sorcerer, half-demon bastard prince or a faceless enigma with a properly bone-chilling name who probably has hoards of demons at his command.

Again, pick a character who sounds appealing.

Once you have decided upon the protagonist and the antagonist (or the good guy and the bad guy), you must choose names for them. This is no laughing matter. The name of each character must represent the true essence of that being. An average name like Sam or John or Mary just won't do. There is a rigorous protocol which must be followed for name choosing. It is roughly as follows: close your eyes, mash your fingers firmly into the keyboard, press a lot of buttons, and then open your eyes. Insert a few vowels, delete all the numbers, and you're ready to go.

Examples: Asetio'qrty, Aiowe, Eriuhw or Wei'yug. The less pronounceable the name, the better. Readers are impressed by this sort of thing.

And now, a brief word about personality and appearance.

To be truly cliche, your main character must have that special temperament that veritably screams "cliche!". This is not difficult to attain, despite what you may fear. It is actually very simple: He or she must be perfect, except for one vital personality flaw. A fierce temper is usually acceptable in this matter, although low self-esteem is also becoming popular.

These characters must also be drop dead gorgeous. Make sure your character has either icy blue eyes or gold-flecked emerald ones. Emerald eyes usually go with black or red hair, and blue eyes usually go with blonde, but this need not be a given. (If your character is female, her hair should be long and flowing, unless she is a thief.)

You must also describe your character at great length. After all, he/she is not only the savior of all mankind, but he/she also must be better looking than all those other characters that all of those other clueless writers come up with. So make sure that he/she is. A good rule of thumb to follow when depicting your character is to give him or her all of the physical traits that you yourself have always wanted.

Then tell us what he/she is wearing, how he/she likes to eat breakfast, whether or not he/she washes behind his/her ears every night, and if he/she has ambitions to become a purple walrus. Leave no stone unturned, and do it all in breathtakingly boring prose. Make sure that the beauty, grace and charm of this person cannot be doubted, even for an instant.

It is encouraged for the main character to have numerous useful talents. He/she should be skilled in magic, if possible, and generally the broadsword, bow and arrows, and pickpocketing as well.

And there you have it! These are the main items of import. If you follow these easy steps, you'll find that you have a cliche character all ready for you. It wasn't difficult at all, was it?

Be sure not to miss the next exciting installment : Plot, or, Johnnie Saves the World. That's all for now, and remember. All it takes to write outstanding cliche is a little hard work and a little perseverance.