Wednesday, February 16, 2011

It goes without saying, and for all intents and purposes, CLICHES should be avoided at this point in time...

Welcome to Writerly Wednesday at The QoP!  I hope I'm posting this in a timely fashion.  Wouldn't want the cold shoulder from you.  I do try to offer up entertaining, useful tidbits for my lovely followers...wouldn't want you all to kick me to the curb, after all.  :)

(you caught all the "blech", right?  Smarty pants - I KNEW you would!)

So, if you missed me gushing about the Grammar Divas workshop I went to a few weeks ago - you can read about it HERE.  And if you did catch it, you know that I promised to share some fabulous tip I learned.  I decided to go with cliches, euphemisms, and idioms.  We use them all the time.  Heck!  They crop up in my writing ALL the time.  BUT, as the writing world continues to tell us...and frankly, I agree...using these common, overused phrases in your writing steals away your voice, your style and your tone.

Here's a handy list I got from the fab Grammar Divas of cliches, euphemisms, and idioms to watch for in your writing:

ace in the hold                       goes to show                      sick and tired
all wet                                     goes without saying           sigh of relief
as a matter of fact                 high and mighty                  significant other
at this point in time                in a nut shell                        sneaking suspicion
babe in the woods                 in a timely fashion              take exception
before long                             in place of                           take offense to
behind the eight ball              kick to the curb                   time and time again
better safe than sorry            knuckle under                      the long and short
cold shoulder                          like the plague                    tip of the iceberg
couldn't care less                   long and short of it              tried and true
day in and day out                  on the part of                       under the gun
down and dirty                        on thin ice                             wakeup call
fear and trembling                  par for the course                whole other story
few and far between               poor excuse for              window of opportunity
fly in the face of                       put on an act                         sick and tired
for all intents and purposes   rock and a hard place          sigh of relief

Now, I'll have to say that I'm of the opinion that eliminating ALL of these phrases from your writing may not be necessary.  Let's face it - this is how the world talks.  But, overusing them in your writing....well, ultimately your call.  Tell me - What's one cliche, euphemism or idiom that just makes you cringe when you read it?  What's your take on using them in writing?


Maria McKenzie said...

Great post! I'll have to visit your link to the Grammar Workshop. I do my best to avoid cliches, but I do use them when writing dialogue. As you say, that's how the world speaks!

Donea Lee, I have an award for you at my blog!

Witless Exposition said...

Great tips! I noticed several in the list that I might want to re-think.

As for making me cringe, it's not really so much a cliche, but overuse. I've noticed that some authors will reuse one particular word anytime a particular character comes into the scene. Someone who's always shrugging/smiling/talking in chagrin or the like.

Misha said...

Hmm... I'm all for cliche if it is used right.

Sadly, the correct usage can be a mucky thing to wade through.

So I avoid it altogether. (In theory.)


Abby Minard said...

Ooh these are great. I never really thought of cliches and I don't notice them too much when I read. Hopefully I don't have any in my novel! But I can see having them in dialogue if your character is like, a chliche-nut or something. But yeah, as a narrator, that might get annoying if they're all over the place ;p

Tracy said...

Gosh, great tip to hear! I actually looked over the list and don't use too many all too often so I find that either good? or not so good? I plan to look at the gladd half full :)

Jess said...

I made up my own the other day, and embarrassed the crud out of myself. I got notes back from a critique group member, who liked my pages for the most part, but noted that: "for all intensive purposes" is not a phrase. It's for all INTENTS and PURPOSES, and even then, don't use that phrase because it irks me." I felt like a big jack-wagon. Especially since she's a 19-year-old college student and I'm...well, much older. That's what I get for majoring in Outdoor Recreation :)

Aleeza said...

i think you can only avoid cliches up to one point--they sneak in some way or the other. its just a good idea to keep them minimal :)
also, you have sigh of relief up there twice. which might be there to point out its a double-offense to use it, cause i seem to use it a lot :D

Kari Marie said...

Sometimes those cliches are sneaky. That's where a good critique partner comes in. Thanks for the helpful post.

Lydia K said...

Your title was too funny.

This is often said at my house: "...the bottom line is..." and I just annoy myself when it comes out of my mouth.

Anonymous said...

Great cliche list! New follower and crusader! I look forward to reading more.


aspiring_x said...

copied and saved! thanks for the list!

Donea Lee said...

You're all very welcome! This list will help me a bunch, I'm sure! It's already been useful, as Jess helped me realize, in learning that "All intents and purposes" is the correct version of my often used "All intensive purposes"! *shakes head* Yeah, I know.... :D

Colene Murphy said...

Oh neat!! I had a crit partner friend get onto me for using a cliche or two, so now trying to figure out another way to say it! It's not that easy to think of another way, either! Thanks for the list Donea. Will come in handy!

Catherine Ensley said...

Hey fellow crusader, I'm stopping by to say hi and to follow you. Cliches are okay if part of dialogue. I like your list.