1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    I'm still confused about cliches and the "for" conjuction.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by waitingforzion, Jul 3, 2010.

    It doesn't seem possible to avoid every phrase that someone has used before. Some resources seem to suggest that two word phrases can actually qualify as a cliche. Even phrases like "avoid every phrase" or "used before" have surely been used already. I just don't know how I can write without using them. I can understand avoiding things like "cold as ice" but there are some very basic thoughts that I can find no other way to express in a sentence. Do I have the wrong idea here?

    Also, I use to have the habit of using "for" as a conjunction, but I never seemed to employ it properly, because as I just learned, "for" does add weight to a sentence, and when it occurs, a sufficiently weighty clause must follow for it to sound right. Well, I think I've learned to employ it properly, but I'm not sure if it's a good idea to use it because it supposedly sounds pompous. When I write, I sometimes find that I need the "for" conjunction to express a reason for the previous clause. Sometimes I need to use it at the beginning of a sentence, since "because" would not work there in that usage. But I'm reading that it is not proper or acceptable to begin a sentence with the "for" conjunction.

    Can someone help me understand this? Thanks for your response. Just please don't judge my writing by my post.
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    the cliches you need to avoid are the ones like the one you used as an example, 'cold as ice'... i can't tell what you consider 'basic thoughts'... give us some examples, if you want an opinion...

    you also need to give us some examples of how you use 'for' [actual sentences], for us to be able to give you advice about this...
     
  3. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Okay, this is going to sound stupid but:

    Also, I don't understand what you mean about the cliches. I gave examples like "used before" as well. When I talk about basic thoughts, I mean narrow fragments that are best expressed by no more than four or five words.
     
  4. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Nobody will accuse you of using a clichéd phrase for phrases like "avoid every phrase" or "used before". Because these are phrases with which you are NOT trying to depict something striking (even such phrases shouldn't be repeated in close succession, though).

    Now consider something like "cruel heart" (yes, there are two words phrase clichés). Here you are trying to depict 'heart' in an exaggerated/striking/poetic manner. It must have worked when it was first use, but it has lost its originality and effectiveness because of overuse.

    May be somebody will give you a proper explanation, but this is how I understand.
     
  5. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    So what are good alternatives to "cruel heart"?
     
  6. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    Say we had the base phrase "The man had a cruel heart."

    Now, to rid ourselves of 'cruel heart,' we can draw our word choice from various sources. Time period, actual vocabulary of the speaker or the character on whom the focus is, environment... all these affect how people describe things they encounter.

    For example, if the story were taking place in our present day, people don't often discuss people's hearts, nor do they necessarily use words like cruel at all. What would people actually say? A modern person who observes someone with a 'cruel heart' could have several choices. "The man was dangerous and unforgiving." "The man had no mercy." Heck, depending on the speaker, you might be able to get the message across with something as simple as "The man was a jerkface."

    Imagine you were writing in Victorian England. "The man was vicious." "The man was positively cruel." "The man's heart was void of kindness."

    In America, during the Revolutionary War, focusing on the patriot-to-the-death: "The man's heart beat the same cruel blood as that of Benedict Arnold."

    In the future, during or after the Robocalypse: "The man was a machine." "The man was inhuman, all steel and wires in the place of love."

    In the eyes of a villain or evil person: "The man was delightfully cruel, unhindered by weaknesses."

    Clichés are crushed by finding the appropriate phrase to use in your given setting with your given characters and narrator. I mean, some of the phrases I used above are clichés (Robocalypse phrases, I'm looking at you) but people can see past them easier because they're more appropriate to the situation. A Robocalypse survivor has much more right to compare someone to a robot than a modern person does, because we haven't been hurt by the heartlessness of robots yet. That's my opinion, anyway.
     
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  7. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Oh I see. Thank you.

    Now what about the "for" conjunction? The requested example is in my second post.
     
  8. theSkaBoss
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    theSkaBoss Member

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    I think your use of 'for' is fine. Given, I kind of mucked my way through your example. It was written in a very... hmm... It's like a very intelligent person was writing a letter to another very intelligent person with the vain intent of impressing the receiving intelligent person so that he/she would continue thinking that the writer was also an intelligent person. I certainly hope the speaker in that example has a good reason to be speaking with such flourishy vocabulary and style.

    But yes. The use of 'for' is fine.
     
  9. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    The definition of cliche. If it applies to that phrase or situation then it is cliche.

    cli·ché
    –noun
    1. a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.

    Thought maybe this may be of help. Skaboss is definitely right that you have to take into account the time period and character's disposition. If the character is good he/she will view someone who is evil differently than if they themselves were evil. Best of luck.
     
  10. Taylor3
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    Taylor3 Member

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    I don't think you should use "For" at the beginning of a sentence, unless it is dialogue for a specific character that talks that way.

    I also agree with SkaBoss about that writing example sounding like a smart person talking to another smart person. It is sort of annoying to read.
     

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