Thursday, June 30, 2011

Don't Be a Cliché!

After sitting through the latest installment of Transformers for my movie reviewing day job, I was surprised yet again how people can allocate gazillions of dollars to stunning special effects but don't bother hiring a good writer for the screenplay.

I mean seriously, the script was ridden with one cliché after the next.

Now I know the cliché about how clichés are clichés for a reason (and that's because the inherent truth behind it is often true), but I still couldn't believe how downright lame the story was. Just because it's a blow-it-all-up action movie doesn't give it a free pass—or at least that's what I think...

And that got me thinking about an article I just read on Write it Sideways about the hideousness that is clichéd writing, whether it's the characters, the action or even your personal word choice. When you're writing, it's downright easy to opt for clichés; after all, they're the first things that usually pop into your head.

But once you've gotten those out of your system and racked your brain a bit for something more clever, you're not only doing your writing a big ol' favor, but you're giving a great gift to your readers, too.

Now how about you? Do you find that clichés are part of your favorite go-to sentences? And if so, how do you kick them to the proverbial curb so you (and your readers) don't suffer?


  1. I actually do what you just did, put the word "proverbial" in front of it when its a more serious reference, especially in a character's thought, and that lets them know the cliche was on purpose!

    Another trick I use to rewrite it. Instead of one character saying o rthinking "well that's the pot calling the kettle black" I'd have them say "Hi Pot. I'm Kettle." or something more snarky and fresh. Or instead of saying/thinking "when pigs fly", the character could say/think "That was funny. I hadn't seen any pigs zooming around the clouds yet."

    Most readers will recognzie the rewriting of the cliche and appreciate it, and it also helps show the character's voice.

    Or...another option... if it's a character's dialogue and the cliche fits their type of perhaps borderline corny personality, I'll have the other character point out that it's a cliche ;) Still fun and keeps it fresh without being boring or overdone.

  2. Good tips, Betsy! And great post Christa :)

  3. All too true! I love all of the tips, Betsy...I try to do the same ~ reimagine what it is that I am actually trying to say and freshen it.

  4. Do you think one of you could do a post about the differences between plot, ideas, concept, theme, & so on?
    Are they are the same? Like is your idea your plot? Etc

  5. What do you do when it feels like you can't overcome the feeling or "you're not good at writing. You're ideas don't hold up and you'll never make it"
    It seems like everything I start end because that's all I think. And yet I want to be a writer, I just feel like all my ideas are dumb.

  6. Posted too soon!
    And how do you not feel funny or embaressed saying & going to a conference when you aren't published?
    I just feel like if I tell my friends or family they'll think its silly & a waste seeing as I've not written a book or even published and articlE

  7. Skylar, about your conference question - going to a conference is what unpublished authors SHOULD do!!! The conference is FOR unpublished authors, truly!! Yes, published authors can still greatly benefit, of course, in regards to networking and meeting new friends and getting their name out there or meeting with new editors/agents they haven't worked with previously, but seriously the benefit is for the unpubbed in that it gives them the opportunity to meet authors who have gone before them, learn more about the craft of writing and grow in their talent, and meet editors and agents and have the chance to pitch their book ideas to them. So if anyone laughs at you for wanting to go, they just don't understand how it works! Don't worry about what other people think anyway. Do what YOU want to do for YOU and your dreams and your future career possibilities. Okay? :) You gotta shake off the feelings of inadequacy and all those doubts and insecurities about not being good enough. Someone will always write better than you and you'll always write better than someone else. That's not what its about. You have to trust that God will equip you to do what He's placed in your heart to do (write)

  8. Suri, I'm sure we can pull something together on that soon! :)

  9. Yes we can, and we will!!! :)