Cliches by Christine Duncan

http://www.amazon.com/Safe-House-Christine-Duncan/dp/1936127008/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1257712524&sr=8-2 Recently my husband and I rented a movie that started in the morning with the characters on the way to work with the weather report playing in the background. Right away my husband was upset. “How many movies have to start this way!” He groused.

Well, okay, it is a bit of a cliche. But it’s such a great way to establish not just the weather but also place, the time of year, the time of day, that it was just an ordinary day in the life of….. You know, that’s probably how it became a cliche.

The movie contained no surprises whatsoever, which according to my spouse you could tell from that start. But it didn’t keep us from watching or enjoying it. It was still fun.

And it got me to thinking, yet again, on cliches. I think as writers, we need to be aware of them, which I admit, I sometimes depend on my better half for. But if we know that some writer (or apparently, many writers) used an ordinary weather report to jump start us into the story’s setting, we can start thinking about other ways to do that. And thus better our own story’s beginnings.

Another cliche that I have noticed,is that at the end of S/F adventures, the characters always seem to be flying off somewhere else–continuing their hero’s journeys. You know, this is the place where in Star Trek, Next Gen, Picard sits back in his chair and says “Make is so, Number One.” And you see the ship go speeding off.

I don’t think cliches like this are necessarily a bad thing. Readers (or watchers) feel a bit of satisfaction in the thought that maybe they can anticipate something new to look forward to. The saga continues.

So I guess it goes without saying that I like it when a book series has a sort of signature sign-off. Although, it does seem like a technique that modern writers have thrown by the wayside.

We can learn so much from cliches if we just take the time to consider them. Me, I’m still thinking about that weather report.

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3 responses to “Cliches by Christine Duncan

  1. Great post 😀 I’m somewhere between you and your husband on the subject. I agree that cliches are quite disappointing when they come up because they can sometimes seem careless. Perhaps though, as you said, we can analyze cliches to see why we are using them in the first place, and then go a different route while still establishing the same information.

  2. Also, much love for the Star Trek reference haha

  3. I have no objection to cliches, as long as they are well-written. If they’re done out of laziness then they are irritating, but if they are done that way because that’s the way the story has to go, and they are done well, then I’m fine with them. Picard/Kirk flying ever onwards always bought a little tear to my eye, no matter how often I saw it, because it was done well.
    Michelle (the one from this site – are all Michelle’s Star Trek loving writers?)

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