Tuesday, November 27, 2007

At the End of My Rope With Cliches

Keeping cliches out of my writing has been a struggle that I think I am finally starting to win. I had a problem in high school and college with being heavy on the cliches, and it took a lot of awareness and editing to get myself out of the habit. For a long time I would skim over my writing and take out the cliches, replacing them with a phrase that was a more personal representation of what I was trying to get across. I think it worked well and I think I have cut them out of my writing in most cases.

The problem lies in what is considered a cliche. There are as many answers as there are writers, and some phrases that I never considered to be a cliche are considered by others to be so. I found this mega list of cliches, and some of them I certainly don't consider to be anything other than a couple of words that are often used together. And as for the one word examples- um, no. A cliche, in my opinion, is something that is an easy way of expressing something, and expressing it in a way that is far too common.

Sure, "asleep at the wheel" is a cliche. But, is baby boomer? That made the list, but I've used it several times to describe that specific generation, and I would not cross it out as being a cliche. What is the line between language that slows down the copy and language that is simply accessible? It can be touch and go to cash in your chips an call a spade a spade in these instances.

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