Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Writing Topic Tuesday - The Cliché Edition

Sorry that I’ve been out the last couple of weeks.  I think I just needed a little hiatus (or a couple of BYE weeks) to get my thoughts together and launch into the new year.  For more details on my thoughts and feelings, checkout this post on the 15-Minute Writer: The One Thing You Must Know About Writing

.I love cliché.
Courtesy of Adriana Santamaría P. via Flickr

Clichés: every editor and publisher loathes them, but everyone uses them. And you can’t escape from them, so here are a few clichéd writing topics for you to explore:
  • What are some of the clichéd descriptions that seem to appear in your writing over and over again. List them and when you tend to use them.
  • List as many clichés as you can in 10 minutes. Post your list here.
  • Write a story that uses a cliché as a starting point or as inspiration.  Look up the origin of the phrase if you need help getting started. Many clichés have very interesting origins and stories behind them.
  • Take one of the clichés in your list and see if you can change it slightly to give it a better meaning or twist the words slightly to give it a completely different meaning,
  • Write about a cliché that is perfect because there seems to be no other way to express a thought in any better way.
  • Take a cliché that reminds you of someone, maybe a parent, mentor or old friend.  They used this cliché all of the time which therefore attached it to your thoughts and memories of that person forever. Explore the how and why of it.
  • Clichés don’t have to be just written, there are many clichés on TV and film, list those that you can think of or that really annoy you.
  • Characters are also subject to clichés. For example: The dumb jock, the nerd with no social skills, the valiant knight in shining armor, the helpless princess, etc.  Make a list of as many clichés as you can come up with in 10 minutes.Take a couple of the more interesting clichés from the character cliché list above and twist them to make them more interesting. For example, the jock who pretends he is dumb in order to hide his obsessions with technology and his dream of creating the first self-aware robot, because he doesn’t want to be seen as a “nerd."
  • Write a story consisting entirely of cliches.
Plots are also victims of clichés. What are some of the plots that you see in the movies or on TV over and over again, and the results always seem to be the same.  Soap operas are infamous for using these: the evil twin, the amnesiac character, the character who fakes her own death only to return again later, etc.

Here is a specific example: Anytime that a character wants to adopt a baby on a TV show or movie, there is inevitably a problem with the adoption which (90% of the time) consists of the mother-to-be changing her mind and deciding to keep the baby after the adoptive family has made all of the preparations for the child. The latest example I’ve encountered: NBCs Parenthood.  I cannot think of a single time where a storyline has been presented where an adoption goes (cliché alert) off without a hitch.

Have fun with these topics and list some of your favorite (or most loathsome) clichés in the comments below.

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