I LOVE CLICHES!


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Thread: I LOVE CLICHES!

  1. #1

    I LOVE CLICHES!

    I Folks!
    I'm new around here and have decided to get my feet wet with a topic that has been on my mind of late, namely the use of clichés in fiction. We’ve all heard the time worn advice to steer clear of clichés in our writing, starting with our earliest English teachers and through-out our schooling. The reasons are clear. They don’t want us to be lazy or to take the easy way out. They are trying to stimulate originality by forcing us to come up with a different way of expressing what are typically common thoughts and feelings. They are trying to teach. So, a school setting is the genesis, I believe, of the aversion to the use of clichés.
    Here’s the thing.
    They work.
    They are what they are for exactly that reason. Our culture has embraced them, used them, and understands them in an instant. When I say “his skin was tight as a drum” does that not evoke a powerful image? Instantly? Isn’t that what we’re here to do? If I said, “his skin was tight as plastic wrap on a soup bowl” is that somehow better? Which one is more likely to bring your reader out of the story?
    Clichés, and similes too, give the reader some comfort, a touchstone in a sea of plot twists, character dynamics, and suspense. They bring color and culture into our writing. They speak to our roots, reveal our history, and add flavor. Most of us use salt on our food every day. Is that salt any less savory for that fact? How would your food taste without it?
    As far as being lazy? I can easily spend an hour (or two) on one darned sentence. Whether it contains a cliché or not makes no difference whatsoever.
    Finally, about that ‘time worn’ advice to avoid clichés. Don’t ‘they’ also say to avoid ‘time worn’ expressions?
    Maybe it’s time to toss the time worn advice. I’m not in school anymore and will no longer drink the Kool-aide!
    Hope this generates some feisty conversation!

  2. #2
    Think you'd like this song:

    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  3. #3
    Patron Foxee's Avatar
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    I was listening to a Preston & Child book on audio and realized that they use timeworn expressions all the time. And it didn't hurt my enjoyment of the story. Leaning on cliches rather than trying to write a good story would be problematic but I'm with you here, sometimes it's best to use what works.
    We'll burn that bridge when we come to it.

  4. #4
    LOL, yes, your point is made. I used a simile as my example of a cliché... I guess I think of many common similes as cliché! None the less I still think I have an interesting argument. Thanks for your response!

  5. #5
    LOL! Yes, Seigfried007, your point is made. I used a simile as my example of a cliché... I guess I think of many common similes as cliché! None the less I still think I have an interesting argument. Thanks for your response!

  6. #6
    Cliches still have a place in dialogue.
    People often use these expressions to tell you about a thing.
    To use cliches in narration would be lazy writing.
    But to have characters use cliches would be real-world.

  7. #7
    Yes, chiches in dialogue are fine. They can tell you a little something about a character.

    But I cannot stand chiches in plotlines.

    The next book or film I encounter which uses a sick/dying/dead child to achieve pathos or motivate the MC's plight goes straight into the garbage.

  8. #8
    So, ya’ll are sticking to your guns on the ‘no cliché’s on the plotline’ bandwagon. The whole point of this exercise is to generate some interesting conversation so that’s fine by me.
    But it sounds like we need to define a few terms before we proceed any further. What is the definition of cliché? According to the dictionary it’s a term, phrase, or idea that has lost much of its force due to over-use.
    That’s one broad definition! Add every individual’s personal idea of what a cliché is, and it balloons again (oops, was that one there?). KenTR said: (Thanks for your response, Ken!)

    Quote Originally Posted by KenTR View Post
    The next book or film I encounter which uses a sick/dying/dead child to achieve pathos or motivate the MC's plight goes straight into the garbage.
    Which seems to indicate that whole plotlines can be cliché, a broader view than my original thoughts about similes and metaphors but valid none the less. So, if we’re avoiding sick/dying/dead children in our plot, what about sick/dying/dead wives, mothers, fathers, grandma’s, friends, dogs, careers, forests, oceans or whole worlds? They’ve all been over-done and are in danger of being considered cliché by someone and landing in the trash. With tens of thousands of writers cranking out plots for the past thousand years or more, each one striving for originality, is there really an original plot still out there? Do we use the squirrel in the tree in our yard to generate pathos?
    I’m just sayin’… (oops!)

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by KenTR View Post
    Yes, chiches in dialogue are fine. They can tell you a little something about a character.

    But I cannot stand chiches in plotlines.

    The next book or film I encounter which uses a sick/dying/dead child to achieve pathos or motivate the MC's plight goes straight into the garbage.
    I dunno. Maybe I'm thinking of this cliche differently than you are, but as a mother of three, I know that kids get sick... so having kids mystically never get sick is unrealistic.
    "Ammonia will disinfect sin."
    --adrianhayter

    "Art is life, just add bull****."
    --Chris Miller

  10. #10
    Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9 bdcharles's Avatar
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    You could argue that lots of Shakespearean phrases are cliches. They’re good but hardly original. Then there are tropes - these are more like the story or plot line element cliches you mention. Many of these still get frequent use because the execution can vary and also because, simply put, people love them! They’re timeless and relatable to each new generation of readers.


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