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Ushasri Nannapaneni, 04 Dec '13

Cliché

As a budding writer, I float-walk the waters of writing very cautiously following my predecessors vigilantly observing how they did and what they did to scale peaks in writing.
Also, as a person with no knowledge or experience to fall back on, with my over-protective shell called parents with me being their cocoon, I am forced to question my writing time and again. When doubts galore, I go into defensive mode and often wonder about a lot of stuff that is 'blasphemy' is the world of writing.

And the word I dread the most is Cliché. I have nightmares when I hear people say, I use too many in my work and it makes me take a completely opposite stand on the issue. That is just the tentacles of rebelliousness itching to spread out, when the only defence mechanism known to humanity is to rationalize it.

I say Clichés are not bad at all. How? Why? You may ask and here is my argument...

Lets examine life in general to get an idea of what we usually call a cliché.
Ex1. Judge on a reality show saying "Fantastic, mind-blowing, awesome, excellent" etc.
Ex2. Using adjectives and adverbs that express an emotion in a clichéd manner. Such as using the word 'Suddenly.'
Ex3. Situational cliché - Never use coincidences to get a character out of trouble, it is okay to get them in though!
Ex4. Methodological cliché - A truly loving mother -with all the qualities that we are always in awe of - has a daughter and is widowed - remarries a man with a daughter-her own daughter distances herself - the mother has a kid from her 2nd marriage-and then the usual climax.
And I can go on and on...

Now here is my argument.
1. In a situation where an author is trying to get you wrapped in his the character's and plot, using cliché render the layer of reality to the situation. I felt that way when I read a few clichéd expressions, however, didn't mind them as the story and the people felt real and I could relate to them.
2. It is the best way to connect with emotions of the readers. Not many readers in today's world understand Shakespeare or Salman Rushdie in their first attempt. So, I say, give then an expression which they know and can connect with while reading the book so that their experience is enriched in the journey. Also, this may make them read more.
3. Don't we see in our day to day lives how we manoeuvre our situations in our lives and wonder at all the coincidences that get us through in many awkward situations? And now ask yourselves the how valid is calling Ex.3 a cliché.
4. Methodological cliché is definitely a flaw in story telling they say. I fail to understand their argument as I believe "Humanity is itself a Cliché, made by God!"

We are all the same deep down behind our fair and dark skins, tall and short statures, stout and anorexic appetites, we dwell on this planet treading as cautiously as we can protecting everyone we love, with fears of loosing everything hanging above us like a loose chandelier waiting to crumble on your head with slight breeze, or the fear of not achieving what you want to. We share many common factors that bind us -Fear, joy and sorrow are felt and expressed in the same many by all of humanity. I hope you got the drift and will stop here.

Last but not the least, If God himself cannot break the tag of cliché in creating humanity, wouldn't it be too arrogant on my part to even attempt to break it?
I mean, you all know and agree I am no God.

So, the defence rests with the judge's verdict - The author is free to go and use as many clichés as he wants. However, be extremely careful with your plots and characters.

Hemingway said, "Writing is Architecture not Interior Designing."

Comments · 2

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  • Rachel Anderson said...

    I've actually had a friend present a similar argument about clichés not being all bad... I agree, now that I've read this. They're not so bad, after all.

    • Posted 5 years ago
  • Ushasri Nannapaneni said...

    Hi Rachel,
    Thanks for reading it and for the comments. And thanks for not putting me down for the argument eh? :P

    • Posted 5 years ago