Saturday, September 21, 2013

Writer Myths: Avoid Clichés.

Hi, folks. Busy, busy, busy, but news is around the corner!

I'm continuing my series on writer myths.  It is true that cliches are often a sign of inexperience or laziness in writers, but sometimes cliches can be useful. Use them for humor or turn them upside down to create fresh language. Here is a useful cliche site. It's important in writing to always be aware of what you are doing, especially when you are breaking tried and true rules.

Cliches can offer great comic effect.  You can create some serious play by throwing in a string of cliches --  he'd worked his fingers to the bone --- literally, fragments of bone were spread across the table. Serving as a grim reaper was a thankless task. A self-deprecating character tossing cliches as ironic commentary can also add a ton of fun to a scene, too.

Sometimes in a first draft I use cliches as a way to move forward quickly in a draft. Cliches are a helpful way for me to get on with the story.  I do go back and scrub the manuscript, but the first pass is always mess. Cliches are just part of the mess for me.

I like to see if I can freshen a cliche. When I find them I ask myself: Why did you go there? Perhaps I've thrown out, "It was a dark and stormy night..."  The first words of a A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L' Engle by the way. So there! Use cliches! For me, I think a cliche is about seeking more lively ways of saying the same thing. I turn the phrasing to find something that is interesting. Wind stripped branches of leaves and the body was covered before the light of dawn. I'm happier now.

I hope this is a useful discussion and that you find it helps you create better stories. I will see you next week with another writer myth.

Here is the doodle: Puss in Boots.




Quote for the week:
The first man who compared woman to a rose was a poet, the second, an imbecile. Gerard de Nerval

2 comments:

Leandra Wallace said...

I'm guilty of cliche usage! But like you said, revising helps reign them in. ;)

MollyMom103 said...

Hi Leandra, I don't think I've ever read a book that didn't have a few cliches in it! You are in good company.