Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Can I Get A Cliche Please?

I have a cliche problem. And maybe this isn't the first time I've written about it. I'm too lazy to check the archives. But if it's not, then that tells you just how serious the problem is.

You hear it over and over again. Don't write cliches. But you know sometimes you need a metaphor. People say cliches. So if you have realistic characters, they're going to speak like real people. So I've always been told to change the cliche, make it that character's own.

The problem is... you have to know a blooming cliche before you can change it or alter it or make it your own. And I DO NOT have a good grasp of cliches. Really. The funny thing is that I already make up my own cliches, I just don't know it. And if I say them fast enough, most people don't know it either. Well, a few minutes later, I can tell they're computing what I said because they get this funny confused look on their face.

Worse yet is that I can rationalize why my versions are perfectly reasonable cliches regardless of if they are "correct".

Once while a friend of my hubby's was trapped in my car on a trip, I told him that he "shouldn't put all his apples in one basket." After about ten minutes he said, "Uh... It's not apples." He couldn't think of what it is because... well I have that effect on people too. But I promptly started arguing that you wouldn't want to loose all your apples because then where would you be? Appleless. And he agreed and said he supposed you could say that about anything... Even carburetors. I thought that was taking it a bit far. I mean at least I stayed within the food category (the right word is a food isn't it?) but I didn't push it because I had him seeing my way. And you never argue with someone who agrees with you. Even if they're being ridiculous.

I have gotten way off course. My point is that you can't very well change a cliche you don't know in the first place! And that's a problem for me. When my hubby is around I ask him if something is a cliche. Most times he says, "Only in your world, sweetie." And I get that he means I'm not saying it the "popular" way. But for all of my "creative" cliches, I can't purposefully be creative with one. I mean it's not that I try to make them up. They just come up wrong in my head.

So I'm having problems with knowing the "popular" version of cliches and then making up a new "creative" version. Argh. Am I the only one with this problem?????

Oh yeah, and the friend who feels his carburetors are so important... When hubby and I got married, we had a videographer and our guests left us personal messages. After rambling on a bit about some imaginary Dick who threw an imaginary Jane into an imaginary pool(we have creative friends), he looked into the camera and said, "And it's ok to put all of your carburetors into this basket. You've got a good, strong basket there and you won't have to worry about them in there!"

And to this day my hubby wonders what in the world it is about carburetors that makes me cry.



Cole said...

Oh April!!! This was too cool! :) I loved your posting today! AND I love knowing you have a cliche for your story... :)


Emma Sinclair said...

All right, I don't know if this was upposed to make me laugh as much as it did, but this was hlarious.

I found you this: http://www.westegg.com/cliche/

It's a cliche finder!

(And FYI - it's eggs in a basket).

Shelli Stevens said...

LOL apples in a basket. I didn't even catch that until you said he said it was wrong. Yup, eggs. LOL.

Cliches are a small part of a book. Sure try to avoid them, but don't sweat it. That's what your crit group can tell you in the end. Where you're over doing it, and then it's an easy fix.

Julie S said...

Well, since the term is "eggs in a basket" and you said "apples," it's not a cliche, right?

And they're definitely an easy fix. Better to write them if that's what you're feeling at the time, then go back and change them later on!

Sarah L. Catherine said...

LMAO! Here's my favorite line... "And you never argue with someone who agrees with you. Even if they're being ridiculous".

I have trouble with cliches too -- it's on my list of things to revise OUT of ms in the next week or so. And cliches can be as simple as saying something the way 900 other people would say it (even if it's not a recognized phrase)...so that's where unique word choice could come in.

Maybe you could make a heroine like you -- using lots of cliches and getting them all wrong. It would be funny!! :)

Stacy Dawn said...

You've been tagged--in a fun way.

Check out my blog for details :)

Karen Erickson said...

Loved this! I worry about cliches too. But they can be such a part of normal conversation it's easy to let them slip in...

mary beth said...

I'm the same way, so I'm trying something new.
I've made a list of all the words I can think of that are adjectives for my two main characters and I'm using those when I need stronger verbs or metaphors or similes. I actually took notes on this from Virgina Kantra's session a few years ago at a National conference, but I just started using the technique this week.
LOL on the story.

Olga said...

Lol about apples and carburators! Loved that! I actually used to like sneaking in occasional clichers, but altering them and turning inside out. It was fun to do! But I stopped years ago...

April said...

Glad I can entertain! Thanks for the link, Emma. I'll get a lot of use out of that! And great idea, Sarah!!! :-)