The grief story: it’s sympathetic, moving, and even cathartic when done well. It’s also a trap for clichés, overwrought metaphors, sticky sentimentality, and hyperbole. Add that to the ubiquity of the grief story, and you get a subject that can be damn tricky to write well....more
Posts Tagged: cliche
In an interview with NPR about his new book, It’s Been Said Before: A Guide to the Use and Abuse of Cliches, Orin Hargraves acknowledges the utility of well-worn shorthand even as he counsels against its use. Clichés work because their prepackaged meaning is immediately accessible, making them ideal tools for journalists trying to convey information quickly but counterproductive for the creation of fresh, resonant prose....more
Most people think clichés aren’t worth a hill of beans, but over at Salon, Orin Hargraves says they just haven’t gotten a fair shake. Hargraves thinks clichés are just a red herring; if you want to make sure your writing really is one-of-a-kind, he has this advice:
The best way to free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés is to construct it thoughtfully, paying close attention to the common tendency to insert a ready form of words in a place where it easily fits.
The phrase “little did she/he/they know” has plenty of history. The question is, when did it start being used for cheap suspense? The inversion of subject and verb sounds stilted and melodramatic, so the obvious culprit would be 19th century fiction.