- Books, Literature, and Writing
It was more than a dark and stormy night
When Edward Bulwer-Lytton first penned his now infamous line " It was a dark and stormy night" he had no idea that it would become something to avoid like the plague. Although Lytton does go on to describe Georgian era London, lazy writers do not take the time to develop their descriptions.The solution here is to think of what you are writing about and what that would involve. In the case of a stormy night you may have wind, rain, thunder and lightning. The next step is skipping the lights and camera and going straight to the action, What actions are being done? Is the rain coming down in torrents or is it more like a soft sprinkle? Is the wind a gentle breeze or a violent gust? Ask yourself the same questions about your scene and write down the answer.
Did curiosity kill your cat?
The Oxford dictionary describes a cliche as a hackneyed phrase or idea. While that is true, it seems too black and white. My definition would be more like this; if you can repeat a line from memory then it is a cliche so don't use it. Sure curiosity may have killed a few cats but it doesn't have to kill yours, use an original phrase to describe impending doom.
If I had a dollar for every time I heard that
Everywhere you turn you can't move without stepping in a cliche, but just how many times can you throw the baby out with the bathwater. All may be fun in love and war, and money may be the root of all evil but what we want as readers is fresh original content. Instead of using a worn out phrase like; " A fool and his money are soon parted" use action verbs to show how this fool has lost his money. Remember the old rule; show don't tell..
If you love them set them free
As much as we love those old worn out phrases ( A dark and stormy night is 182 years old) we must kick them to the curb, try and try again, never lose hope, go for the gold... you see what I'm doing here. It is very hard work avoiding cliches, so many are ingrained in our everyday lives, but the more we can cut the richer and more rewarding our writing will be.