Cliches -- (why) are they bad? - Page 3


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Thread: Cliches -- (why) are they bad?

  1. #21

    Cliches -- (why) are they bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by The Fantastical View Post
    Tolkien. One long lovely perfect, "cliche". The topics, the motives, the character, the races. Yet modern fantasy would not be where it is today without him.
    Yeah, I think that’s a pretty terrible example. No offense, but I’m not sure you know what you’re talking about in this particular instance. If you do, you’re going to need to do a better job of explaining it...

    First of all you can’t have cliches concerning such broad things as motives. There is only a finite number of motives for anybody to do anything. Virtually every motive has been rehashed a thousand plus number of times over the centuries. If a general motive can be a cliche, everything is a cliche, therefore the word loses meaning.

    I don’t know if hobbits existed before Tolkien. I am sure Elves did and Dwarfs. Dragons but not, say, Ring Wraiths. In any case for the same reason you can’t really speak of it in terms of a cliche. I am sure there was no work that existed before Tolkien that combined those races and characters and those motivations in that story. Therefore nope, not a cliche.

    It is correct that a Tolkien-esque work written after Tolkien by another writer would run the risk of “cliche” but Tolkien himself did not. Again, to think otherwise is to render the word utterly meaningless as all work is ultimately derivative of those before.

    A cliche is a literary device which is by dictionary definition overused and lacking original thought. I’m not sure how anybody on here can defend the use of overused, unoriginal writing unless it is for a very intentional and probably ironic reason. I am equally sure that nobody sane could accuse one of the most creative and imaginative authors of the twentieth century of being a “cliche”


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  2. #22
    Time and time again, I've searched high and low for the heart of the matter, some final definition of shopworn clichés that will stand the test of time down through the Ages-- but every Tom, Dick, and Harry thinks he has a God-given right as a man who stands alone to use clichés according to his own conscience rather than within the confines of defining limits set in stone by us, the power elite of language. These rebels without a real cause declare: "I mean, like, are we mice or men? United we stand, shoulder-to-shoulder against the language Police who would give their eye teeth to win the brass ring of forcing and compelling--even dictating and constraining--the great unwashed into mandatory, day-in-and-day-out, household use of clichés, in a manner that they have the handle on." So, they're on to us and we must have the intestinal fortitude to fight the good fight with them, or they will rise up like our worst nightmare and grind our passion into dust.

    And that's what I have to say about that.



    ________________________________________________

    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  3. #23
    ^ best post ever


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  4. #24
    VonBradstein -- Your post just above is an accurate and succinct summary of some of the main obstacles that must be accounted for in wrestling with "definitions" of any kind, certainly one as problematic as "cliché". I do have something of an issue with your first sentence: I have a different 'fix' on Fantastical's point. I thought she was contending that, although Tolkien's work was not cliché at its time of publication, there have been so many spin-offs, imitations, and-near duplicates in story, TV, and movies that, by origin and association, Tolkien's work itself has become 'cliche'. The argument is a bit of a stretch, but has some merit. Pope was so bloody good at long poems written exclusively in heroic or closed couplets, that the form itself has become cliché. The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock is one of the few substantive examples of the dramatic monologue after Browning virtually exhausted the possibilities of the form. I grant you, a thin argument, but it is not without merit to point out that overuse through imitation can and does have some colouring on our attitude towards the original.



    ________________________________________________

    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  5. #25
    There can be power in cliches if a writer is careful with their handeling. From a literal translator's standpoint, I work with cliches, but manipulate the context in which they are used. e.g. Back the Black Sheep, a Fluffy Bunny called Lollop, a questing troll called Heckler, and two Turtles who carry the light of the moon and sun between them. Not to mention the Left Hand and the Right Hand of the No Man. A Fox associated with socks, namely the Star Socks Fox and another who is made of blocks, the Tibbox, in addition to the fox named after a species of fox, Fennec the Pocket Fox. Shoals made out of prepositional phrases. A Willow Key Tree, a diving gannet that has the power to bend time and space. A pair of swans caught in a constant tide of Ebb and Flow. Time marked by the turning of the tides. A pair of chickens named after kitchen ingredents, Paprika and Fennel. Three Primaries (Red: Crimson Swiped Zebra. Blue: Literal, the Azure Pygmy Giraffe, and Yellow: Lilahari, the Golden Gazelle.) African Wild Dogs, (The Wild Dogs of Tenebrous Wold). Hyenas that are bold as brass and aren't worth brass tacks. Tack and the Brass Pack. Selkies, pirates, highwaymen, the last of the unicorns, a pair of bicorns, a winged lion cast from living stone...And the list goes on. All blatant and worn out cliches. Rightfully they should not exist because they are cliches. But I cannot regret having written their stories...

    Cliches are a shoddy shortcut to most writers. Uninventive, and simply bad writing...Guess I summed up my own work in less than a sentence.


  6. #26
    Darkkin, what you've done is to make old cliché's new by giving them a new spin (pardon the cliché) - they aren't worn out if you put new tread on them.
    "Self-righteousness never straddles the political fence."

    Midnightpoet


    "The bible says to love your neighbor. It's obvious that over the centuries it has been interpreted as the opposite."
    (sarcasm alert)

    Midnightpoet


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  7. #27
    The argument in support of cliche's in poetry goes on to suggest that many people live cliche' lives. They have limited vocabularies and limited expectations. They are most comfortable with the familiar. They are not comfortable with language that stretches the imagination or questions the satus-quo. Some of these people write poetry (or what they call peotry) and other people read this poetry. To them, that's what poetry is: Hallmark cards, rhyming couplets, Dr. Suezz, every top-40 country-western song. People eat this stuff up and probably 90% of what the English world-at-large thinks of as poetry is a string of cliche's in rhyming couplets. This is what they want. It makes them swoon because the know what it means. The cliche's massage their souls because the words are familiar and make them feel comfortable, they feel like they know what life is about.

  8. #28

    Cliches -- (why) are they bad?

    Quote Originally Posted by Darkkin View Post
    There can be power in cliches if a writer is careful with their handeling. From a literal translator's standpoint, I work with cliches, but manipulate the context in which they are used. e.g. Back the Black Sheep, a Fluffy Bunny called Lollop, a questing troll called Heckler, and two Turtles who carry the light of the moon and sun between them. Not to mention the Left Hand and the Right Hand of the No Man. A Fox associated with socks, namely the Star Socks Fox and another who is made of blocks, the Tibbox, in addition to the fox named after a species of fox, Fennec the Pocket Fox. Shoals made out of prepositional phrases. A Willow Key Tree, a diving gannet that has the power to bend time and space. A pair of swans caught in a constant tide of Ebb and Flow. Time marked by the turning of the tides. A pair of chickens named after kitchen ingredents, Paprika and Fennel. Three Primaries (Red: Crimson Swiped Zebra. Blue: Literal, the Azure Pygmy Giraffe, and Yellow: Lilahari, the Golden Gazelle.) African Wild Dogs, (The Wild Dogs of Tenebrous Wold). Hyenas that are bold as brass and aren't worth brass tacks. Tack and the Brass Pack. Selkies, pirates, highwaymen, the last of the unicorns, a pair of bicorns, a winged lion cast from living stone...And the list goes on. All blatant and worn out cliches. Rightfully they should not exist because they are cliches. But I cannot regret having written their stories...

    Cliches are a shoddy shortcut to most writers. Uninventive, and simply bad writing...Guess I summed up my own work in less than a sentence.
    As noted, those are good examples of subversion or new spin on cliche, which is generally a key to great writing. However they are not cliches in themselves because they are not being used in their original meaning.

    A true cliche is using a phrase like “it was raining cats and dogs” non ironically as a descriptor. Does anybody want to argue that belongs in good writing?


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  9. #29
    Does anybody want to argue that belongs in good writing?

    Surely not! Interestingly, excellent writers who would eschew clichés in their writing, will often use them in the more casual, sloppier mode of conversation.



    ________________________________________________

    "I believe in nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of the imagination". Keats, ​Letters

    "No man is an island entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main . . . any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind. And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls -- it tolls for thee. " John Donne, Meditation XVII

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by bdcharles View Post
    Cliches are time-dependent. When the first person or an early adopter uses them, it's fresh and original. When the nth writer drops them in, not so much.
    Was that a joke? I can't tell because I can't see your face. When the first person used the cliché it wasn't cliché, it was original. Oh, my side hurts.

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