Are you an avid viewer of Tv reality cooking shows, Master Chef et al? No? As a writer, you should be! Why? Because you could easily play the game every writer should. It is called ‘spot the cliche’. After all, the game itself includes a fancy-sounding French word that has stuck into practically every language round world to signify a trite, stereotyped expression, as almost any online dictionary would tell you.
‘I gave it all I got’, ‘I was cooking from my heart’… Just a couple of the usual ‘standards’ you can hear it over and over in any of these shows done in the English language, from New Zealand on one end of the globe to Canada on the other. They have become such a standard that that gospel/jazz tune “When the Saints Go Marching In” could easily change into “When the Cliches Go Marching In”. I’m afraid we’re all prone to cliches, and writers need to be reminded once in a while (can become a cliche expression itself, can’t it?) about them.
Usually, when a writer notices one (or a few) in the text(s) he’s written he grabs a Thesaurus or any such writing tool to seek and replace it with something else. Fair enough. Sometimes you’re just stuck, or distracted and cannot exactly express what you really want to say.
Then, there could be deeper problems. What if you haven’t been doing some extensive reading recently or have stuck to texts that are in a rut themselves and have more cliches that saints marching’ in?
That is easy(er) malady to correct. You can read more, diversify your reading, particularly if it is research-based. The words and expressions just stick in your head, and then, why not even write them down? But, what if the problem lies somewhere else?
There, maybe one of the cooking cliches mentioned comes into play. The one where the contestant(s) bring their plate of food to the judges and utter: ‘I was cooking from my heart (or soul, take your pick)”. What if you as a writer was not cooking, or to be more precise, writing from your heart (soul)? What if you were actually indifferent to your text, what if it was on a subject matter you don’t care about, or you simply are not into it for any reason?
You can bet that the cliches will fly in then, whether you want it or not, and no thesaurus will help you there. That text will simply not fly. There you have two choices - the easy, where you simply give up on that text or the other one, where you start all over, find a good reason to try, involve yourself in that text and then start all over. Then the cliches will probably simply disappear and the real (word) saints will start marching in again…
To learn more about me, please check my LinkedIn page at www.linkedin.com/profile/preview?locale=en_US&trk=prof-0-sb-preview-primary-button.