Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Clichés: A - Z

Do you have a terrible time with clichés? I do. I don't even realize I'm using them but they sneak up in my writing all the time. Maybe it's because I really love all the old sayings--like phrases my grandma always said--such as: what goes around comes around, as honest as the day is long, what you see is what you get, or work your fingers to the bone.

I thought since so many of these expressions are stuck in my head, they might be stuck in yours, too. Sure, these words bring back nostalgic memories. Nostalgia may not be the word that pops into the editor's mind, though, when they see your pages filled with them. They could be annoyed and think it takes away from your story.

Writing mentors of mine have told me, "Michele, you've written a wonderful story, and I really love it, BUT... it's filled with too many clich
és. Take those out before you submit it anywhere." I'm glad I had someone with a fresh, seasoned eye to let me know!

This topic has been on my mind for a while now, so I decided to address it in this post. When I Googled the word clich
é, I discovered what Wikepedia had to say about it:

A cliché (from French,
klɪ'ʃe) is a phrase, expression, or idea that has been overused to the point of losing its intended force or novelty, especially when at some time it was considered distinctively forceful or novel. The term is generally used in a negative context.

I can't tell you how hard it has been to break myself from including so many of these "overused words" in my written work. I won't even mention how many times I say them out loud. Have I bypassed turning into my mother altogether and morphed into grandma status? Okay, we won't go there.

In those "clich
é" Google results a most interesting site surfaced: ClichéSite.com. I love it! I noticed right away that phrases are listed starting with the letter a and continuing all the way to the letter z. You can literally find cliche's from A to Z, including from which country they originated. It's amazing... You'll definitely be busy for quite some time. Wait. There's more. Cliché of the Day provides a new overused term each day!

liché Finder is another source. There are over 3,000 of them filed here. Still not happy? Site owner, S. Morgan Friedman, even lists Other Cliché Links to further satisfy your thirst.

I hope these links help you keep clich
és out of your content, while writing the cyber highway!

Rebecca Laffar-Smith brought up an excellent point in her comment. She suggested that the Clich
é of the Day would probably do more harm than good by implanting these pesky little phrases deep into our heads only to flow through our fingers and onto the keyboard--exactly what we're trying to avoid. She shared her opinion: "Perhaps we need to tred with caution and become more conscious of the cliche terms we use." Right! Thanks for your thoughts, Rebecca! Exactly what I was trying to say, only you said it better :-)