Cut plot cliché of histrionic exit

To ensure readers hold your story in high regard, you’ll want to avoid plot clichés, or overused literary devices, which typically are employed by lazy or unskilled writers.

One such plot cliché is the histrionic exit. This involves punctuating the end of a scene with a physical action aimed at evoking an emotional response in the reader. For example, after an argument between two characters, when one of them leaves he slams the door. The reader then would say, “Wow! That character is really angry!” The term was coined by CSFW’s David Smith.

Usually the writer includes a histrionic exit to make up for a lack of style in the scene. In the above example, as the writer fears that the argument didn’t sufficiently show the character’s anger, the physical action was added, like an exclamation point to a sentence.

The solution is to delete the physical action and fix the scene so the characters’ anger is apparent to readers. In the above case, the character might make cutting remarks or a description of them being angry, such as balling their hands into fists, could be included.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.