As a budding writer, I float-walk the waters of writing very cautiously following my predecessors vigilantly, observing what they do or did to scale peaks of writing.
My over-protective parents guarding me like a cocoon. Also, as a person with no prior knowledge or experience to fall back on, I am forced to question my writing time and again. When doubts galore my thought, claws of defense become alert and makes me wonder about a lot of stuff that is ‘blasphemy’ is the world of writing.
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 defense mechanism known to humanity is to rationalize it.
I say Clichés are not bad at all. How? Why? You might 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 story – A widow, a truly loving mother -with all the qualities that we are always in awe of – When her daughter is 12, she remarries. – her own daughter distances herself – the mother has a boy from her 2nd marriage – and then the usual climax.
And I can go on and on…
Now here is my argument.
- In a situation where an author is trying to get you wrapped in his/her characters and plot, using cliché renders a layer of reality to the situation. I felt that when I read a few clichéd expressions in many a story. However, didn’t mind them as the story and the people felt real and I could relate to them.
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. I say, give them an expression that they know, and connect with, while reading the book. It heightens their experience by enriching their journey. Also, this may make them read more (fingers crossed ).
3. Don’t we see, in our day to day lives, how people maneuver their situations in their 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 question.
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 beneath 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, while fears of losing everything hangs above us like a loose chandelier waiting to crumble with slight breeze. We share many common factors that bind us – Fear, joy and sorrow are felt and expressed the same 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 cliche in creating humanity (they say there may be seven look a likes in the world eh?, 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 defense rests with the judge’s verdict – The author is free to use as many clichés as he/she wants. However, be extremely careful with your plots and characters.
Now I know why Hemingway said, ‘Writing is Architecture not Interior Designing.’