Monday, April 18, 2011

3 Tips Monday

beet itphoto © 2006 darwin Bell (via: Wylio)


Cliches. In our plots, in our characters, in our words. Cliches are the opposite of originality. Cliches must go.

So how do we guard against tired, boring cliches in our writing?

1. Weeding out plot cliches - read. A lot. And be aware of how often you see the same storylines/situations. The schoolmarm and the sheriff? The secretary and the boss? The restaurant/car/kitchen scene? Avoid these when plotting. Use fresh backgrounds, occupations, settings. Something to make your work stand out.

2. Weeding out cliches in our writing. The secret to finding and weeding out cliches in our writing is this: If you can finish the phrase without having to read it...it's a cliche.

As red as a _______.
As dead as a __________.
As mad as a ________.

Cliche alert!

3. What if you can't think of a way not to use a cliche? If you can't think of a way to describe something without using a cliche...do what James Scott Bell teaches. Use the cliche, and up the ante. JSB gave this example in a workshop, and it has stuck with me. "She looked like a million bucks...tax free." Isn't that great? A cliche with a twist, punched up and more powerful.



How do you avoid a cliche, and what is one of your favorite cliches?








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8 comments:

  1. Great advise.
    Fresh as a daisy is one cliche I quite like... I don;t use it in my writing though :)

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  2. Good grief. I can't think of any! lol

    In my feedback for a writing contest, one judge told me my writing was good, not cliche. Another judge told me my writing was flat and cliched. You have to laugh, don't you? Everyone sees things differently, and it is hit or miss sometimes.

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  3. I like the one with a twist and I always know 'em when I see 'em.

    I avoid them like the plague. HA! There you have it, my favorite.

    ~ Wendy

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  4. Haha, Wendy M.!

    I like the James Scott Bell example! I have this pet peeve where people use a cliche and just add the word proverbial to it. "She was mad as the proverbial (wet) hen." It feels like it draws my attention more to the cliche. But that example, putting a twist on it... That (with a lot of discretion!) sounds fun.

    I'm not sure of my favorite right now though.

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  5. Cliches. *shudder* My nemesis. I have to weed them out. (ugh. Was that a cliche? Weed them out? sheesh)

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  6. My favorite cliche? But I love them all!!

    roiling stomachs and green orbs for eyes do have a tendency to make me want to reach for antacids.

    Okay, now Erica...I am here on a mission. I want that French Toast muffin recipe.

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  7. I hate cliches but sometimes they spring up like weeds. :) Love your advice, thank you!

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  8. The twist ones always leave me with a smile, but so do original ones.

    I tend to roll my eyes when I read a cliche in a published novel, so lazy of the author. Unless, of course, it's in dialogue, for some reason cliche's ring true in dialogue and just work for me.

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