In a piece of fiction you have the freedom to make up anything. You have mermaids talking, people come back to life, misers turning into philanthropists, aliens arriving in flying saucers--all you have to do is write it down. And the trouble is, so many writers have. There have been so many ghost stories and haunted-object stories and guardian angel stories that it is hard to be fresh and original. Readers are quick to remember early incarnations and say, "Oh, that's like another story I read." A cliche is a cliche whether from this world or the next.
Jerome Stern, Making Shapely Fiction, 1991