Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Tuesday is the Cliché Police

Okay, I'm not here to tell you to never, ever, EVER, use a cliché when writing.

Maybe just never ever.

I mean, I suppose there's a purpose to clichés. You can't just spout off analogies willy-nilly, there has to be a universal understanding to the concept you're trying to put into words. Nobody says "mysterious as the dark side of a pomegranate," or "it could fit on the head of a paperclip" (except maybe Ziva, because she can kill you with one of those things), because "dark side of the moon" and "head of a pin" already have strong associations, and nobody stops to say, "Hey, the dark side of the moon isn't that mysterious anymore because those space guys photographed it and all," because that's not the point. The point is, the dark side of the moon, when used in the cliché context, is very mysterious, and therefore whatever the cliche is referencing is also very mysterious.

And boring, by now.

I mean, come on. After Mulan, you can't even use that phrase without a) beating on a long-dead horse, or b) breaking into song. And that's a good thing. It means we need to stretch our analogy legs and go for a jog and come up with new phrases. You can't say "mysterious as the dark side of the moon," but you can say "mysterious as the back wall of my closet," if I do the legwork and explain in my story/article/blog post that my closet is perpetually messy and I no longer remember what the back wall looks like.

See. Unique. Attempt at humor. Pathetic failure at humor. Laughs garnered in pity. SUCCESS.

My point is, break into your inner creativity like it's a jar of Nutella and your mom just gave you a spoon and walked out of the room. (See what I did there?) (Hi, Mom. Ignore that last part.) Skirt around those clichés. You're better than that.

(You can, however, always use clichés in a sarcastic/ironic/dry manner. If character A rambles on about how awesome and amazing character B is, especially if character B is not someone character C likes, character C is free to say, "Hmm, and let me guess, he's able to leap tall buildings in a single bound?" Because boom, roasted.)

Happy Tuesday!