Sunday, February 12, 2006

In Defense of The Cliche

You know what? I love cliches--older ones that've fallen into disuse, that is. Against all the writing rules I've been taught, I pepper my stories with them, and, like the piquant spice, they work.

They work because they're true. And isn't truth-telling what writing is all about?

Besides, I'm older now and I've discovered that many of the cliches of my youth can be doled out to the younger set, who've never heard them. And when they hear them, they laugh! Because comedy is also built on truth.

For instance, in Layover, I have Kira thinking about Jack: can I kill him and make it look like an accident? Can't tell you how cliche that was when I was a kid. I considered striking it out but left it in because that was precisely what she was thinking. And every single critiquer highlighted that sentence with an "LOL".

Of course, you can always take a cliche and give it a little twist. Instead of being so hungry you could eat a horse, you can be so hungry you'd eat a moose, or a water buffalo. And that makes it even funnier.

(Little aside here: It's after midnight and my daughters are talking to each other in their sleep! Something about grandpa. Wish I had a tape recorder going)

But I like it when a smile lights a room like a sunrise, or a kid running with a stick will put out an eye. It's comforting to be reminded that all's well that ends well, and that even though this is the worst of times, it's also the best.

Let's hear it for the cliche! They've endured for a reason.

What about you? Do you use cliches in your writing? Do you avoid them like the plague, or do they give you the warm and fuzzy feeling that tomorrow is indeed another day?



Blogger Daisy Dexter Dobbs said...

Woman, how do you manage it? I’m absent from blog visiting and commenting for a few days and POW I come here to see a ton of new posts! And yet you still keep getting those books out. You amaze me, Ann. :-D

First of all, BIG CONGRATS on Layover going into print! How exciting!! I have a couple of months to wait for mine.

The pennies from heaven post: I’ve never had a visitation (that I know of), but I often have pleasant, vivid and extremely realistic dreams of my mother and sister. And I usually remember most everything when I wake up. I like to think we were actually visiting on another level. I also dream up stuff that makes me wonder if it’s from past lives because it’s so real and detailed and I feel so at home with the people and situations. Love musing about the paranormal.

The shagging post: A young Cary Grant or James Garner, in a heartbeat!

About clichés: I like to think I’m evolved past the point of relying on them in my writing. Hahahahaha! Actually, I use them often and love them. But I do change them around so they’re more original and unique. I have to be careful though because, in general, I’ve always had a terrible time confusing and mixing up tried-and-true sayings when I’m not really paying attention. Butchered sayings and clichés slip out of my mouth or into my manuscripts far too often. Kind of like malapropisms, I guess. For instance, Tongue in cheek comes out Tongue in shoe if I’m not careful. Not playing with a full deck comes out Not playing with a full box of crayons (from “not the brightest crayon in the box now, are we?”). And dozens more. My husband thinks it’s hilarious and loves to correct me to get even with me for correcting his grammar. LOL

February 13, 2006 11:23 AM  

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