Posted by: malcolmjamesjwells | 28/10/2014

Real Writers don’t use cliches

I was once taking part in a writers workshop and we told never to use cliches. The next exercise I submitted to read out to the class was this one.

Far be it from me to teach my grandmother to suck eggs, but there is something I must get off my chest, so I won’t beat around the bush. Thinking myself a budding best seller I decided to take the bull by the horns, bite the bullet and put myself at the mercy of a college teacher who would turn my genius into a printable product. Armed to the teeth with pens and paper, prepared for the fray, I undertook the acid test.
Unfortunately the best laid plans of mice and men sometimes bite the dust. To my horror I was informed that clichés were to be avoided like the plague. I was devastated: between you, me and the bedpost, clichés were far and away the best part of my scribblings. It was the thin end of the wedge. Still, cut your coat to suit your cloth I always say. I determined to burn the midnight oil; put my shoulder to the wheel, my back to the plough, my nose to the grindstone, and knuckle down and overcome the problem.
However it soon occurred to me that I had bitten off more than I could chew. I had explored every avenue, left no stone unturned, but I was at the end of my tether. Inspiration had failed to materialise; the lights were on, but no-one was home. Without my clichés I was up a creek without a paddle. I was out of my depth. I could not hold a candle to the literary greats. The discerning reader would draw the line at reading my rank and file work. My words would fall on deaf ears.
Well, to cut a long story short, I decided to stick to my guns, and continue using my common or garden clichés ad infinitum. I have an axe to grind and I’m sure this bone of contention will have far reaching effects on the world of literature. For when I’m rich beyond the dreams of avarice, with stacks of filthy lucre, and the world’s my oyster, I will emerge bloody but unbowed; and the cliché and I will rule the roost until death do us part.

The rest of the class really appreciated it; the teacher not so much. A writers magazine did however publish it and use it as the basis for a competition on who could use the most cliches in a story.

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