How Cliché!

March 29, 2011

So what about it? Do you ever find that you’ve written phrases or scenes that are just too familiar…even cliché?

Things were moving along with my latest project. I was watching the words just flow onto the pages and feeling pretty good about it, until I read an online post by an editor. “Just be careful of cliches,” she wrote, and then she went on to explain that too many heroines meet the hero by literally running into him as they turn a corner, groceries (or brief case full of papers) spilling and flying everywhere. I stopped cold. Had I really written that scene…as the opening to my book? No, I couldn’t have done that and not even been aware of how trite and cliché it sounded!

But mine was different…really…I mean she wasn’t carrying groceries or a brief case, and the hunk she ran into…well, he was soooo hunky that you really didn’t mind that the scene had been played out a thousand times on paper, in movies and on TV sitcoms. Right?

I handed the first chapter to my husband and said, “Read this again with a really critical eye!”

He read the pages I’d handed him, smiled and handed them back. “Honey, it’s beautiful, really. I love that scene, it’s funny and charming, and she kind of reminds me of you.” (Translation…I’m your hunky hero right?)

“Don’t you see it? It’s outrageously cliché…in fact so cliché that an editor mentions this exact scene when she talks about plot cliches!”

“But it works,” he says. “I wouldn’t change it.”

Of course, I changed it. I went back and re-read what I’d written with a more critical eye. This wasn’t the only cliché, just the most obvious…and humiliating even if I fixed it and no one ever knew…but of course, now all of you know too!

Does this mean there are no more clichés in my writing? Hahaha! If only…I’ve found that cliches are much harder to avoid than I would have thought. But, it does mean I’m more aware of them, and if they are there, there’s a good chance that I consciously chose to put them there…no guarantees. When I read, I’m always disappointed in plots and scenes that are just too predictable, so I keep this in mind as I fill blank pages.

And what about you? Are there cliches in your writing? Do you think that they work, or do you ‘avoid them like the plague’? No, really?


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