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Friday, September 12, 2014

Cliches,Good or Bad?

By Diana McCollum
http://dianamccollum.weebly.com/


What I find fascinating about clichés is one can get across a feeling, picture or a state of being with few words which need no further explanation. True, some are used to the extreme and especially as readers we get sick to death (is that a cliché?) of hearing the clichés used over and over and over again.

I am thrilled when reading a book and I come across a new take on an old cliché; because old clichés are not all accurate when used in modern day language.

For instance:
“I’m tired of sounding like a broken record”- Really? Most teenagers don’t even know what a record is they’re too wrapped up in I-Tunes & CDs. A broken record is when they beat someone else at track etc.

“More troubles than Carter’s have pills”-How many of us still shop at a Carter’s Pharmacy? I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Carter’s Pharmacy.

“It’s the cat’s pajamas”-My children had no clue what this meant.

“It’s the bee’s knees”-I don’t even know what this one means.

“It’s not worth a plugged nickel”- I give, what is a plugged nickel??

“Johnny come lately”—Huh??

And then there are others that are timeless:

“Kiss and tell”


“loved and lost”

“Poison pen”

“love is blind”

“all’s fair in love and war”
 “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”

I beseech you when you are writing if you are tempted to use a cliché, try and make it more current or different so the reader is surprised and doesn't roll his eyes at yet another cliché. Here is an example from Nora Roberts book, “Homeport”.

Instead of saying “She was cold to the bone”—“The damp, snapping wind iced the bones through to the marrow.” Much clearer picture, more of an impact and chilled me just reading it.


What are some of the clichés you dislike? What are some you do like?

6 comments:

Marcia King-Gamble said...

Love your post. A new take on the old is always refreshing and keeps the writing fresh.

Sarah Raplee said...

I love the way country music uses clichés! it's a fun and playful way to get meaning across in a sort of universal code.

Kate Curran said...

loved your blog and you're so right an new take is so refreshing when it's done well.

Anonymous said...

I'm thinking of writing a book using some of the old cliches my mother spoke to me regularly, like: we'll cross that bridge when we come to it - or pretty is as pretty does.They drove me crazy as a kid, but they mean a bit more now.

Cathy McGreevy said...

I love it when people mix their cliches, like "I'll burn that bridge when I cross it." It can be very humorous, especially when done tongue in cheek ... oops, there goes another cliche! :)

Diana McCollum said...

Thanks for stopping by, Marcia.

Yep, Sarah, Country Music is known for cliches in the songs.

Hi, Kate, thanks for stopping by!

Hey, Cathy, keep us posted on the book. I think I'd read it just to see how many cliches you use!!!