C is for Clichés

So last year I had a post on Clichés. I actually had fun writing a flash fic chock-full of clichés. You can still read it here, if you want to. But be warned: It might blow your brains out. Ha! A cliché!

While there are obvious cliched phrases we try to avoid like the plague (heh), there are also physical clichés that are more subtle, and we don’t realize they are clichés until someone points them out to us. Or maybe no one has pointed it out to you, but since someone did to me, I’m gonna point it out to you! (Forgive me, I’m drunk on lemonade at the moment.)

Are you ready for this? Here’s a couple of links to peruse:

Physical Descriptions: Cliches to Avoid (ObsidianBookshelf.com)

Physical Cliches (Kidlit.com)

Heart-hammering, tongue-turned-into-sandpaper, gut-twisting, fist-clenching…

I’m sure we’ve all read and written these kinds of physical descriptions at some point in our life. My question is: IS IT REALLY THAT BAD? Should we have our characters avoid lump-swallowing forever and ever?

I’m not one to get stuck in a hard-and-fast rule. When I write, I usually aim for atmosphere and voice, and the flow of words together is much more important to me than making sure I did not give my protagonist a hammering heart. If it doesn’t detract from the cadence of the story, it can’t be that bad, right? If used in moderation, it should be fine, right?

What do YOU think?

Found this here.
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15 thoughts on “C is for Clichés

  1. I think we have to be very careful with physical cliches because often we use them to make something clear that we ought to be making clear with dialogue, other action, etc. For example, if we overuse "he ran his hand through his hair," what we might need to do is figure out how to show frustration in a different way.

  2. cliches are cliches because they get the point across so well! I use them occasionally. I'm with you. Every once in a while, I'll use it if it fits the voice.

  3. I agree with what everyone else is saying–moderation is the key. I'm REALLY bad about over-using phrases, i.e. "the corners of his/her mouth pulled up into a grin." AHH!! In my defense, there are only so many ways to say someone "smiled," ;o)

  4. Cliches are fun if a character can pull them off. But if used accidentally and/or too often…well, then it's not so fun (for me–but I guess some people might like a lot of cliches? Maybe?).

  5. I have to admit, I swallowed a lump, my heart hammered and I had butterflies in my stomach as my sparkling blue eyes scanned the contents of this post. ;)If I do use a cliche (accidentally, not on purpose, as above) then I think long and hard whether there's another way to say it. If there is, but I don't like it, then I go ahead and use the cliche. Otherwise I try to use the more original phrase. Great post. :)- Lauren @Word Art

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