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Friday, March 14, 2008

To cliché or not to cliché

My Evil Day Job can be kind of brain numbing, so I have far too much time to think. Yesterday I was mulling over clichés.

All the experts say we should avoid clichés and I'd agree with that--generally speaking--but what I was mentally debating while I sat at the EDJ was when is something fresh and new so distracting that instead of being part of a good story, it becomes more about the phrase than about what the author is trying to convey? Clear as mud?

For example, in my WIP when the hero smiles at the heroine, she felt like she was hit by_____. A ton of bricks? Over used. A speeding locomotive? That's also been done. A runaway freight train? Same problem.

So be unique, I thought, be original.
She was hit with the force of a rhinoceros attacking a tour bus. Um, definitely different, but if I came across that in a book, it would pull me right out of the story and I'd be like, whoa!

So maybe the
cliché works better here? As her eyes met his, it felt as if she'd been hit by a runaway freight train.

This isn't what I actually wrote, of course. I did find a middle ground and tied it to the heroine being a glass artist. I might change it still as I reread and fine tune, maybe it might get cut out on revisions all together.

But it led me to wonder if sometimes writers would be better served by just going with the
cliché? Are there times where it's best to just to forget about breaking new ground? What do y'all think as either readers or writers or both?

In other news, I signed up for digital cable and my dad and I installed the cable box yesterday. My service had a deal--the digital starter package for $29.99 for 6 months--but what I really wanted was the MLB network since I like to watch baseball while I write. TBS stopped showing Braves games, WGN hardly shows any Cubs games any more, and the Twins lost Torii Hunter (my favorite player) and Johann Santana, our Cy Young Award-winning pitcher. It's going to be a semi-brutal season to only really have the Twins.

I could have titled this blog "Adventures in Cable Box Installation," but it really wasn't that hard. The only problem was the girl at the cable "store" said we didn't need to call the cable company to activate the box. So I'm looking at the schematics going, "everything is hooked up exactly right, why isn't it working?" One call to the company and ten minutes was all it took to get it all working. And get this: One remote for the TV, cable box, and DVD player. Wow.

Only it turns out that the digital starter pack has maybe half a dozen more channels than standard cable plus the channels that play music and that's it! What's the point of having digital cable without BBC America and Gameshow Network and all the other cool things? A quick check online showed the digital preferred package plus HBO was on special for $39.99 for six months, so I upgraded to that. We'll see how much use I get out of it.