Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Cliches- They're a Dime a Dozen

We're taught to avoid cliches- overused phrases that weaken the prose. 'Rita worked like a dog at the counter.' 'Tyler ran like the devil himself was chasing him.' I've stumbled onto them like this; when I write, I hit my stride (I know, that's a cliche) and get caught up in the story, losing track of time and life around me. Later, I read it over, and a cliche raises it's ugly head (another cliche!). I edit it, changing it to a simile or metaphor, or sometimes completely rewrite the section. Of course, the first rule of writing is there are no rules. That's been said so many times that it's a cliche. However, I feel there can be a place for cliches, proverbs, or common sayings.
You can make it your protagonist's mantra, his basic belief that drives him. With the myriad sayings and quotes available to us, anything can work. For example, she could live by the words, 'Screw me once, shame on you. Screw me twice, shame on me.' She's not going to take another chance on anything or anyone. Contrarily, she could live by, 'To live is human; to forgive is divine,' and could take too many chances, getting in trouble with her naivete. Whether you inject the actual quote into your story or keep it in mind for your character, it can help keep them on track and stay true to themselves. Now get back to writing. Write like the wind. D'oh!
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  1. Good idea about using a cliche as a mantra for a character. Way to break the rules! :-)

  2. I try to steer clear of cliches, or at least put a twist on them, but I do occasionally find they've slithered into my work somehow. Slippery little dickens.

  3. They wiggle right in there like a pack of wolves. D'oh! Another cliche'!