Cliches and How To Use Them

The most damning critique of any work of fiction is that it’s "cliched." Cliches are obvious detriments to the success of a work of fiction, but why? Can there be instances when the use of a cliche actually strengthens a work of fiction? Give careful definitions of terms such as "cliche," and track how an effective storytelling device, or special effect–like the "Vertigo effect" or "bullet time"–becomes a cliche, and whether it can be salvaged after endless imitation. As lazy as it is to pepper a story with overused cliches, ask, can the use of cliches be a good thing (in some instances)?

  • I agree that cliche is such a damning critque. But to answer your question, I think cliches could be used as a good thing, if the writer itself can twist the cliche and create some sort of originality to it and grad the reader's attention even if the reader already knows its a cliche. If that makes any sense! – Tkesh 6 years ago
  • Clichés can be used effectively when there is a surprise twist to them. For example, M. Night Shyamalan usually writes a story with a twist. – Munjeera 6 years ago
  • Great topic. How can Bob Dylan use cliches and tap into collective conscience while others are just unimaginative or lazy? – Tigey 6 years ago
  • It depends how the cliché is being used. For example, you could try twisting one so much to the point where it criticizes the use of original version of the cliché or you can use a tried and true cliché and use it to underline the importance of certain aspects in the story. – RadosianStar 6 years ago
  • Probably one of the reasons cliches are dreaded as much as they are is because of what it does to the reader. Our minds tend to disengage from phrases we've heard over and over again. I agree with what everyone else has already said about adding a twist to cliches to make them sound more original. That being said, everything we consider cliched now was original at one point in time and the likely reason it's been overused is because it once captured that particular truth so well. Nothing is one hundred percent original anyway, so why are cliches given such a hard time? In the case of cliches, we notice its unoriginality right away whereas other forms of repetition may be better disguised. – aprosaicpintofpisces 6 years ago
  • I think that a cliché knowingly used with a hint of irony visible to the reader can be worthwhile. The real problem emerges when the author isn't aware that parts of their work is unoriginal. – IsidoreIsou 6 years ago
  • I think this writing not can be very useful to writers if there were some articles that could point them towards publishing! – VAnnM 6 years ago

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