Tuesday, October 29, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night once upon a time...

I have a writer's confession to make.

I like cliches.

I'm a little ashamed of it.  After all, you're taught pretty much once you leave elementary school that cliches are "sooooo yesterday".  Overused and not creative.

But they once were creative.  Once saying someone's heart thumped in their chest caused someone to nod in approval.  Once wracking one's brain was clever.  At one time, a blanket of snow opened a reader's mind to a new scene.

In all creative fields, we have to accept to a certain extend that we're just recreating the wheel (another cliche?).  I mean, there are only five or so different plot types.  If you write something trendy, one can bet its been done before somewhere else.

My goal is not necessarily write something new, but write something well.

But my argument is that cliches became overused to the point of becoming stale because people liked them.  Someone had to have conjured up the phrase, and then a number of other people had to have enjoyed that phrase enough to steal it.  Cliches aren't bad writing, necessarily.

I agree you should stretch your writing and not depend on the phrases of others to do the work for you.  The danger with cliches is that they often do not convey what you really want to do, but you go to them as a cop out because its easier to write that than come up with what you're really trying to say.  But what if your cliche is just perfect for your purposes?  What then?

It's hard to judge at that point.  Are you just pulling a fast one on yourself for the sake of ease?  Convincing yourself that its true when it really isn't?

(Side note: I found a good handout on cliches from the University of Texas' Undergraduate Writing Center.  I found this helpful and fair.)

So, I guess I'll stick my neck out there and stand up, even if just a little bit, for the worth of cliches.  They were new and groundbreaking at one point in time, right?

 PS - Related topic, but I saw this link on overused movie lines.  Pretty funny!  Stick some of these in your novel...or maybe not!

Soli Deo Gloria.

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