Friday, 3 April 2009

My whole life is a cliché

Recently on Authonomy I asked the question: I've been accused of having cliches in Megan's Thirty or even being cheesy. Here are some examples sweeping me off my feet , dragged through a hedge backwards. I guess you could call them sayings that have been used a lot in other books.
What I'm wondering is do people avoid these cliches at all costs, include some and not others or make their own up
Any ideas?
Some answers I received were:

"Avoid them. At all costs. Like the plague."

"Readers, but more specifically agents and editors, love a writer that can take a cliche and make it peculiarly his. The converse is also true."

"Think up something original - it can be an entertaining way to spend a few hours - or turn the something into a metaphor instead (but, again, an original one).

It's what makes writing difficult but fun."

"depends what your genre is and whether you are allowed to subvert them for comedy or linguistic purposes:

eg 'sweeping me off my feet but having the consideration to set me gently back down lest I bruised myself on the concrete' ...

'dragged through a hedge backwards, without recourse to a TV Makeover show crew lurking on the other side'.

'sweeping me off the corns of my feet' would be an example of linguistic tweaking."

Great advice, only trouble is my life is a cliché. I use these sayings everyday of my life but it seems in writing, people don't like things like "sweep me off my feet" So I have to create some of my own I've thought of one that I'll put in Megan's thirty to replace one that's been used a lot. But i have a lot of thinking to do. Who knew writing a book was so complicated?


Rebecca Woodhead said...

tricky isn't it? I usually throw in every possible cliche in the first draft - it's easy shorthand for what I mean and it saves time. Don't edit yourself in the first draft. You need the story to flow well. In the second, third (etc, etc) drafts I re-word. Sometimes that means I take out cliches completely and rework the sentence entirely. Sometimes I alter the cliche so it becomes my own. Sometimes I leave it in (shock! horror!) If it's part of character dialogue and that character would be likely to use that cliche it can be more stilted to alter it.

Hope that helps

Rebecca x
P.S. I'm mentioning you on my 'layabout living room' blog today

Angela said...

Cliches are tough. Sometimes it seems so hard to find a new way to say something, and it's easy for the writing to come to a screeching halt while we try to put the brain into gear. The good news is, it gets easier as we go along, I think.