Clichés come in all shapes and sizes!

After a year and a half of relative diligence, I have submitted my final project for review. If it is approved, I will soon have earned a Master’s degree in Holy Names University’s writing program. Hot diggity!

I can’t get over the relief!

Nonetheless, I plan to continue developing this writing to see if I can get some or all of it published. Because the last thing I want to do is send my fledgling literary endeavor into the world before it’s ready for objective review, I have solicited critical feedback. I value both positive and negative feedback and have been fortunate to find readers willing to give both!

It must be said, despite one’s best intentions, negative reaction can sting. One of the most difficult criticisms I received was that my treatment of a character was condescending and the dialog involving her was clichéd. My heart! My pain at the criticism was made more acute by my fondness for this character.

Flummoxed, I couldn’t process the feedback. I finally asked another reader, who has been unfailingly thoughtful in her feedback, to help me understand the criticism. (Or the shocking accusation, if one were feeling sensitive…) In the end, I hope my edits addressed the criticisms while staying true to the heart of the story. I think they did.

Clichéd phrases were red inked on more than one occasion in this collection of stories. There were also times when language or phrasing was correct in the geographical context of the stories, but was too far outside the readers’ frames of reference. It was too authentic to be acceptable; it was disruptive to the story. In the end, everything must serve the story.

There is something about the juxtaposition between that which is too familiar and that which is too foreign that has come to intrigue me.

I wonder if you find yourself unintentionally using clichés in your writing or speech?

Conversely, have you had the experience of referring to something “universal,” only to find the audience doesn’t share your familiarity with the image, phrase or event?

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4 thoughts on “Clichés come in all shapes and sizes!

  1. My library directory FREQUENTLY says that _____ “is the river that runs through it.” I have heard her use that expression in three separate meetings.

    • That’s great, E! Especially because the Piscataquis River runs through my stories! When I was trying to find a (preliminary) title, your boss’s favorite expression popped into my head first & it was hard to move it out of the way.

  2. First, congrats on coming so far! I’m so proud of you!

    And you are hitting home (oh! Is that a cliche?) with this one. Cliches are such handy shortcuts. And really, don’t real people speak in cliches and aphorisms and all that every day? Not that I’m defending them. They’re kind of awful in text. Just another challenger that you are more than up to!

    At least you don’t have to deal with “cop speak,” the bane of all reporters and the crutch of too many. I am not surprised, though, that the voice of your people is too fantastical for outsiders to grasp. Do you get a different reaction from the natives?

  3. Thanks, Miss Sue. ((shucks))
    My group of readers is sadly lacking a Mainah. This is partly because the friend I asked has been unavailable & partly because I am reluctant to ask my family to read it. I don’t want them to feel like they are next on my list of subjects!

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