1. cazann34
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    cazann34 Active Member

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    cliches in dialogue

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by cazann34, Jan 12, 2016.

    I'd like to know the forums opinion of about using cliches in dialogue. In my latest writings I have an older character who reminsces often and used a lot of cliches in his speech. Would this use of cliche still be frowned upon by readers, editors and other writers or would I get away with it as a character flaw?
     
  2. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    Do you really want to get away with something, or would you rather use it to best effect? I know that's pedantic of me to ask, but my intent is to ask you why you are using this feature in the character. If this is the way the person speaks, then this is the way the person speaks. We all have our mannerisms. But is there a reason this person speaks this way? Is this something the other characters note? Does this tell us something about the character's history? If it's just an odd looking hat you're putting on the character, so to speak, then that's not a very deliberate reason for doing something.
     
  3. IlaridaArch
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    IlaridaArch Active Member

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    If the surroundings and the character in general goes well with such a feature, I don't see why I as a reader would frown upon it. But like Wreybies ask'd, is there any purpose behind this? Is it bringing some laugh to the story or some color to dialogue? Does it cause any effect to other characters and so creates more interaction?
     
  4. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's part of the character, it's fine. You may want to make it clear that you know that they're cliches, just to reduce reader tension. (I consider that time spent wondering, "Is the author joking or does he really think that this is profound?" to be reader tension, and not pleasant tension. Plus it breaks immersion in the story.)

    "Well, dear." John stopped, and took a breath, studied the sky, then went on."I've always remembered what my old granny said. Wisdom that has stayed with me all my life: Measure twice, cut once."
    Jane smiled tightly. "And a stitch in time saves nine, and a bad monkey spoils the barrel. I've got it, John."
    John said, "No, dear, you mean a bad apple. You see, people used to store apples in--"
    Jane stood hurriedly and headed for the driveway, calling over her shoulder, "I'd better start loading the bags."
     
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  5. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    :rofl: @ChickenFreak can always be counted upon to give the best examples. :agreed: This is what I meant (to the OP) about this facet of the character being noted in the story, by other characters. Someone who speaks this way is bound to annoy someone to distraction, and even the most forgiving of listeners will have their fill eventually, in real life. If the character speaks this way, then it can't happen in a vacuum, unnoticed. And notice how in Chickenfreak's example this feature of "John" is not only showing us "Jane's" personality (by giving us a measure of her level of patience), but also filling in to some degree information about the dynamics of their relationship.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    She can, can't she? I'm in awe. (And laughing at this one.)
     
  7. KhalieLa
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    KhalieLa It's not a lie, it's fiction. Contributor

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    The one she conjured up for mine was hysterical.
     

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