It really isn't all that bad.
|There aren’t many words as foul or cruel as the c-word. It can be hurtful, discouraging, and yet sometimes truthful. Some people will use it whenever they get the chance, while others reserve it for when it’s well deserved. I consider myself fortunate, for the c-word has been hurled my way at times when it was necessary, and in the end, I had to agree. In my short story "Tale of the Hunter," Landric, my protagonist, fled from danger, though he didn't just run, he "ran like the wind." I wrote it without thinking of the consequences, though I committed a grave sin; I wrote a cliche phrase. Sure that was poor writing, but I ask you this: Are all clichés really such cheap, sad, and atrocious crimes to writing as we deem them to be?
What does cliché mean exactly? Basically it's defined as a phrase, expression or general idea that has been overused to the point that it’s no longer interesting, original, or effective. That’s a general definition, though no matter how it’s defined, I find it highly subjective.
So easily you could say a phrase such as “Absolute power corrupts absolutely” or “The more things change, the more they stay the same” as cliché. However, if a tree falls in a forest and nobody is around to hear it; does it make a sound? And if avoided long enough, out of pop culture, or simply if someone has never seen or heard those phrases before; would they honestly be cliché?
Of course there are offenders who wrongfully use it in the first place. If someone heard a catchy phrase, and made a judgement purely by the popularity of a show, perhaps based on a book, that may contain something about a cold season’s approach, and then witnessed something like that elsewhere, they may say that line was cliché. Those ignorant trolls aside, I believe it is still used when it shouldn’t be.
Consider the youngest generation of readers, viewers, and even writers; those who've not read or heard of those phrases, expressions, and ideas yet. Those individuals may never even see it in anything new just because some mysterious group of all powerful, aging critics said it’s trite. What if, for example, there have been many articles written about the overuse of clichés and I haven’t read any? Would that make this piece concerning clichés, cliché? Not to me, however if you’ve read twenty articles about the subject, you’d probably denounce it as such.
It’s especially difficult to come up with fresh metaphors and similes when just about any passable example a writer may think of which would successfully convey his or her thoughts to a reader have been done to death in so many superb works.
Just think about the sheer, unfathomable number of stories that have been written. Employing advanced algorithms, folks at Google came to the conclusion that there are nearly 130 million books published worldwide. That doesn’t even take into account of other forms of entertainment, such as film, television, and the ever growing, video game industry, with budgets which exceed that of blockbuster movies. There’s no way in anyone’s lifetime that someone could or even want to experience all of those stories.
But what about my idea? My manuscript titled “The Revengers.” A tale which centers around a group of vampiric, zombified, werewolves who sparkle in sunlight and fight crime with their super powers regardless of the general populace's hesitance to embrace them. Now is that an original idea because we haven’t previously witnessed all of those concepts together, or just a super-flustercluck-cliché? Your call.
So how do we really know when something is cliché? At this point I’d have to say it’s based on popularity and exposure, but then, if it inhabits so many works worthy of our collective attention, is it really such a bad thing? I feel we crave something different, yet we yearn for the tried and true. Do we really want to remove dragons from fantasy, aliens from sci-fi, or cold blooded murder from thrillers? Of course not.
To the critic; I implore you to reconsider the subject before you use such a frustrating and often pointless word. To the creative folks; I say go ahead and use some of those supposed clichés in your writing. I believe if a work has a few clichés, but enough fresh material in the mix to come off as something entertaining, the piece as a whole isn’t really cliché. Just because someone says it is cliché, doesn’t automatically make it true, nor is it condemned to be considered poor writing. No matter how one defines the word, it’s still just an opinion.
Now with that out of the way, I will leave for writing on another occasion, another atrocious c-word you may have had in mind since the beginning of this article: “clickbait.”