I don’t want to beat around the bush, but since it’s a case of in for a penny in for a pound, I need to tell you, and don’t burst out laughing so tears are literally streaming down your face, if you’re grinning from ear to ear and don’t think what I will say will get your mind racing and your heart thumping in your chest — but …
Let me say it again: Avoid clichés!
One more time for emphasis: Avoid clichés!
Some clichés will seem more obvious, some become clichés because you use them so much in the same piece. There are all kinds of clichés we use (and here I don’t mean the metaphorical or plot ones — see below) and because they are used so commonly in our everyday conversations, we tend to use them in our writing. Now I do forgive some used in speech for it to sound natural (some I say) and some writers would argue that a first-person narrative where we really hear a character could get away with it. But I would still prefer to see interesting different quirks in a character voice.
And in the narrative itself — clichés are, sorry to state the obvious, lazy prose.
So how to handle them — well: either just say it how it is and don’t try to be too clever:
Heart racing can often be implied by a tense scene, shown through internal thoughts or external body language; trembling clammy hands, sounds feel muted, legs (are not like jelly or lead weights) but refuse to move. Thoughts like Now come on, it’s nothing. She took another step … are often better for showing tension.
In fact let me tell you — it’s at the moments of greatest tension or extreme joy all those lazy clichés come pouring out, flooding the senses, adrenaline courses through the body — get the picture? So this is where you need to look closest of all to pick it up. When you create tension or joy, as extremes of emotion (rather than some of the more subtle nuances of body language through action) we seem to feel the need to spell out to the reader what is usually: bleeding obvious! How do you think the character will feel?
FILM the scene and show it!
Anyway where was I? Oh yeah the next way to handle clichés, is to write something original and quirky — but be warned as this is when people tend to overwrite something! Watch out for those clunky expressions!
If you want some thoughts on the other kind of cliché take a look at this … http://litreactor.com/columns/top-10-storytelling-cliches-that-need-to-disappear-forever
Okay I am now off to write for England … or should it be Wales … whatever! Have a great day!
Oh and … avoid clichés!