1. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    The Cliche Thread

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by leafmould, Nov 24, 2011.

    Is, for example, "He wandered into the kitchen" cliche?

    I'm leaning towards thinking it is, after investigating the verb "to wander" in online dictionaries.

    I think "He drifted into the kitchen" would be better.


    The Cliche Thread could be useful. It might be a helpful device for steering us away from the cliche trap. We could put our most hated cliches in it, as demonstration. :)


    Here are the two at the top of my "loathe and detest" list:

    "The headlights pierced the gloom: - No they didn't! They lit up a dark area in front of them!

    "The clouds billowed..........." - No they didn't! They moved turbulently!


    Let's 'name and shame' and discuss these overused relics!
     
  2. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Great thread leafmould:)
    one my hated word 'hunger for'
    'to hunger for love'
    'to hunger for something'
    no you don't hunger for stuff , ''you are hungry'' full stop.
     
  3. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    I agree! This is overused in songs.

    "To have a strong desire for something" is what is meant, but that's a little dull. So how can we express strong desire without cliche?

    Aha! I never said that avoiding cliche is easy :).

    "To yearn" is a nice verb.

    "To long for" another.

    "To need desperately" is simple enough.


    You'll find many more ways of saying "to hunger for" if you give it some thought.
     
  4. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    the problem I have with this particular one is that the word starts off as meaning something.
    then 5years down the line it goes all over the place and means everyhting else, it is almost like the word 'hunger' has started to eat its way around words and expressions.
    so I would stick with the first idea which is
    I am hungry which means I want to eat.

    there is another similar word:

    Tuck In
    now this two wordsword is irritating because to tuck something is discriptive of puttin something away, then IN appears to join up force with TUCK to describe ''start eating''.
    It is horrible because it has that image of a hungry individual about to jump on food almost woolfing it.:(
     
  5. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Re "to tuck in"....

    This is a phrasal verb, possibly originating from the Australian word for food - tucker. Many British schools have a tuck shop selling.............food.

    To tuck in is colloquial, not cliche.

    The Cliche Thread is a place to discuss and give examples of cliche, not of words and phrases that one doesn't like.

    I don't write this in disrespect of the way you express your feelings and opinions on the English language. Your passion is obvious and your quirkiness often charming, but I feel that our sticking with cliche here will be more productive.

    "sticking with"..............hmmmm?

    Cliche?

    :)
     
  6. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    "I feel a headache coming on."

    sometimes a cliche is your only option.
     
  7. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    haha...I have been cliched..sorry if I went out off subject:(
     
  8. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Yes. Avoiding one might seem pretentious sometimes. Especially in dialogue.
     
  9. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    No problem, Cacian. Perhaps send Phrophetsnake a soothing message.........
     
  10. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Aha! Just an example. Of cliche!

    The quotation marks - yes.


    An alternative could be:

    "I'm getting a headache".
     
  11. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    sorry..did not mean to make you feel like this, I hope you are Ok.:(
     
  12. Show
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    Just about everything is either a cliche or so weird that it sounds awkward. lol The most cliche thing in fiction is the idea of a cliche. :p
     
  13. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    leafmould I hope these are cliches.:confused:

    ''to snob someone off''
    one is a snob right to actually do it too sounds a bit far fetched.
    another one is
    'to turn your nose up on someone'
    I am told snobbery is related to ''a stiff upper lip''?
    Nohting to do with nose then if it is the upper lip?
     
  14. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    I am not a fan of to 'yearn' or 'long for' because it sends a feeling of despair to me.
    I prefer to ''look forward to''.
     
  15. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    No, no........this:

    "I feel a headache coming on."

    ....is his example of cliche.

    He uses quotation marks..........this means they are not his own thoughts.....it's just an example.
     
  16. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    Ah...I get it now.
    sorry about the confusions.
     
  17. leafmould
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    leafmould Senior Member

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    Just a little joke, but they're always potentially risky on the web.

    Use with care!


    There's no reason for you to apologize. I missed the quotation marks, too, at first glance. I thought Prophetsnake was making a little joke about the prospect of having to face a barrage of cliche discussion.

    We move on................
     
  18. Slinkywizard
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    Any book that starts with a character waking up is a cliche for me. Usually inexperienced writers then go on to describe in detail their irrelevant personal hygiene and breakfast details.

    I'm also instantly turned off by the following type (not being dead specific in these examples) of description, usually on the first page:

    "Sunlight glistening off the ripples in the languid pools of blah blah..."

    "Motes of dust, iridescent in the pale shafts of maudlin moonlight..."

    I think I just have a real issue with purple prose; it will stop me reading on.

    I think there's also a difference between using cliche in narrative voice, as above, and your characters using them. If the protag is trying to decide on something important and the narrator says something along the lines of 'It was six of one, half a dozen of the other', that's definitely a cliche, however, if one of your character says it, it's not, since real people use cliches all the time. It's common parlance, and therefore in avoiding all cliche in speech, characters can often sound less real.
     
  19. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    uh oh.
     
  20. Cacian
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    Cacian Banned

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    hehe...personal hygiene is way too weird in a normal life let alone in a book:p
     
  21. Slinkywizard
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    Hah!

    Just to make you feel better; the novel I'm currently working on begins with a character waking up, however, in me defence, he's woken up by a couple of masked terrorists who've kidnapped his wife and insist he does something awful for them in order to save her - cue story. They leave her eyes on the coffee table as a parting gift.

    Waking up can be done well, it's just all the breakfast/shower/brushing of teeth that grate with me.
     
  22. Prophetsnake
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    Prophetsnake Contributing Member

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    I'm screwed. having said that, it was deliberate. it wasn't done idly, in my case. The character's ablutions are unusual and germaine regarding the plot. that isn't immediately apparent, though. Would it get me a pass?
     
  23. Slinkywizard
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    There's no fast answer to that; I'd have to read it, and you know what I'm like with my crits.

    I think the whole breakfast/teeth thing stems from a new author not understanding just how much room they have to explore character through progressive, story-crucial action. Example:

    "Dave woke up, sliding his one leg from the edge of a bare mattress. His four toes met the floor at the exact same place the minaret of a fresh cat turd came up to meet it."

    Here, we pretty much know who Dave is in a single sentence. If your 'waking up' prose is doing that much work, that efficiently, then all power to the getting out of bed stuff. Commonly, though, it's three pages of toothbrushing where the character is to be found in the brand of toothpaste rather than within the protagonist. My general rule of thumb would be to keep these types of openings as brief as possible. But that's me and I'm not you ;)

    You find a lot of the waking up stuff because us humans, when trying to conceive a new character just find it difficult to do that unless we think through his or her day from the start instead of when the actual story starts. When the kangaroo attacks at the local 7/11, for example. By that time we need to know our character to provide reaction that's interesting. What I'd say is that if it helps with the waking up stuff, write it to get a sense of your protag, then cut it later so your story starts where the action happens. In medias res.
     
  24. Prophetsnake
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    I didn't have a problem with it until i saw your post. It's not somethign I would ordinarily start with. the setting is 500BC and this guy's ablutions are unusual for both his own period and now. I've posted a bit of the book here already, so i won't post anymore, but i can send you a bit of that chapter if you like.
     
  25. Slinkywizard
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    Or link me to it on here and I'll take a look?
     

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