Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Day Late and a Dollar Short

I was supposed to post yesterday, but was so absolutely swamped –with real life and writing life- that I did not have a minute to spare. So I’m taking advantage of the open day on our blog and sneaking in.

Which brings me to the subject of my subject. In recently working as a contest category coordinator for my local RWA chapter, I was speaking to the overall coordinator about one of the entries in our contest. I’d really liked it, and thought it deserved a high score. But in her private comments to me, she mentioned she found it full of clichés. I did a mental head scratch. Clichés? Call me dumb, but that hadn’t occurred to me at all.

Part of that I blame on parents who exaggerate everything to the point that my father frequently used the term “over exaggeration” (which is technically an oxymoron.) I don’t know if it’s the New York upbringing in them, but they had a saying for everything. Two of my mother’s favorites when I tried to get away with something were “I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck,” and  “I wasn't born yesterday.”  :)

My contest coordinator’s comment reminded me of a Harlequin Historical I read years ago in which the author got revenge against her editor, who insisted on removing all her clichés, by writing a Spanish heroine who used clichés frequently, but got them wrong. It was who the character was, so the editor couldn’t change a thing.

So I ask the readers: what do you think of clichés? Do you notice them? Do you care? Do they drive you up a wall? Make you madder than a wet hen?


Anonymous said...

This happened in a SF book, not a romance ... the hero's airplane/ship got shot down by the bad guy and crashed in a river. "Wonder if there's a waterfall?" I asked myself. There was, on the very next page. Cliches I can live with, most of the time. Really bad cliches -- sorry, no.

Too bad. I used to really like that author, too.

Pat C.

Savanna Kougar said...

Crystal, if it fits the character and is cleverly done, no problem. It goes to atmosphere and who the person is.
If it's just an obvious 'the author can only think in cliches'... nope! it's damn boring.