Thursday, May 18, 2017

Bring on the Clichés by Jenna Victoria


“Avoid Clichés” is something drilled into the psyche of every aspiring writer. We are told to send each and every cliché in our manuscripts off to oblivion. Using trite phrases is second nature to us, though. We fall back on them like well-worn shoes. They say what *we* meant to say. They fit like a glove.
Those tried and true sentences flow like honey when we attempt to provide our readers with a bird’s eye view of our story world or insight into who’s who in our cast of characters.
Cliché is a common denominator as we breathe life into the personality of our characters, but they turn them into cardboard cutouts or caricatures. Alice has blonde hair (caught back with a blue ribbon) and is sweet and unassuming. Rosalita, a flamboyant spitfire, has ebony curls that tumble down her back, and eyes that flash when she’s angry. Gareth is a dark-eyed, dark-haired loner with a haunted expression and a gaze that sears into our very souls. Naturally.
Even our villains and their motivations can fall under the umbrella of cliché: the owner of big, bad company greedily covering up environmental issues, or an unrepentant mercenary hired to kill the heroine or the hero, or their family. Don’t forget the wild-eyed, crazy religious zealot who keeps his wife or daughter on a short leash or under lock and key.
Readers encountering clichés or careworn plots or stereotypes get irritated and think, “Can’t they write something original?” and put down the rest of the book without finishing. That’s bad.
Even worse, the use of cliché is what stands in the way of an agent or editor seeing your own personal voice – because you’re hiding that voice behind the turn of a well-worn phrase or an oft-used metaphor.
So, why use Clichés?  Here are four reasons to consider.
Cliché’s give breathing room to writers.
Give yourself permission to write clichés in the first round.  Use them as placeholders, to put a good-enough description in place as you move forward to finish the next chapter, and the next. If you dither over how to describe something, throw in a cliché and call it a day. A rolling stone gathers no moss, after all.
Then, when the book is completed in rough draft, you can go back to page one and start hunting, changing each instance of ho-hum into a fresh example of brilliance.
Let the cliché serve as fuel for similar, but less hackneyed phrases. I took an online class called the Rule of Six for Plotting with author Shirley Jump, and learned that the first five ideas (or thoughts) we have as plot ideas or descriptions are the overused ones, or low hanging fruit. Write down those five cliché’s that comes to mind – and then think deeper. How else can you say the same thing?  Once we get to the sixth idea, it’s usually something original.
If your hero compliments the heroine by saying, “Your eyes shine brighter than the moon,” that’s a cliché. However, if you add the words, “on steroids” – they give it new life. What can you add to the end of a cliché to make it fresh for your fictional situation?
The phrase “Your eyes shine brighter than the moon. On steroids” above, gets even more of a punch if your hero (or the heroine!) is a body builder. The statement turns into something believable, and becomes an inside joke that the reader “gets”.
Cliché’s are springboards. Associate a new word with a cliché - for instance, “pulse” typically throbs, pounds, stutters, etc. What different verb can you add? Pinches? Pushes? What other body part can you focus on to avoid the pulsing clichés? Ears? Nose? Brain? Fingertips?
Dead cliché’s can “get a life” if you add to them.
Give cliché’s genuine details about a character’s life- and they become infinitely more interesting. Relate a cliché to your character’s family, or profession, or superstitions and it soars above the rest.
Of course, when all is said and done, clichés do detract from your writing ability, and not add to it. Take this blog post as an example. How many clichés could you identify? More than a baker’s dozen, I wager. I guarantee your eyes glossed over each one.  Not the reaction a writer wants from a reader.
Ultimately, the very best way to use a cliché is in avoidance. Tell the story that only you can tell – a story that uses words that no-one else on earth has ever written in that exact same way.
And you’ll see. The world will become your (literary) oyster.
Title:  Love Among the Lilacs
Publisher: Forget Me Not Romances
Blurb:  Bookkeeper Mollie Wright knows about living on the streets, and her purchase of sweet Lilac Cottage is a dream come true. She is determined to stay and fight when a legal error puts her ownership at risk. Attorney Sean Grady never wanted his great-aunts to sell their cottage in Westchester County, New York, so when a paperwork snafu puts the deal on hold, he moves swiftly to evict the pretty, feisty squatter. Mollie finds unexpected allies in Grady Cove neighbors and a member of Sean's own family but knows the clock is ticking. Will a theft and her past secrets force a showdown to heartache, or will Mollie and Sean discover home is truly where your heart is?
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Format: E-book, Paperback
Amazon Link:
Bio:  Ever since her grandfather co-created Twinkies, Snowballs & Hostess cupcakes for Intercontinental Baking Company, circa 1955, Jenna has yet to taste a cake she hasn't liked.
Jenna  writes books for readers who enjoy sweet & compelling romances, and also for those who look for her  “fiction that feeds your faith” titles – happily-ever-after romance & romantic suspense stories with a Christian world view. Her stories emulate those she enjoys reading…with a heroine who is in grave danger & a hero who is smart enough to get out of her way as she kicks butt & takes down names… and those that feature  satisfying fairy-tale-endings.
Her clean romances won’t put you into a diabetic coma, and her faith-based romances aren’t preachy or unrealistic. It is her glad purpose to glorify God and His sacrificial love through His Son, Jesus Christ through books that illustrate hope & peace in unbearable situations. Her first triple negative breast cancer diagnosis in 2012 has led to surgeries, radiation,  reoccurrences and incurable metastasis. Still, Jenna continues to praise God and trust His oversight in her life; and continues to write more books.
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