Cliches: we all use them but that doesn’t mean that they aren’t crass, lazy and dumb – especially when used in writing. Good writers avoid them, or at least excise them before publication. One writer even went to war on them (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_War_Against_Clich%C3%A9).
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about them lately because Ivor in the Saturday class has sent me this useful link –
The bit about ‘stock modifiers’ is particularly good and it reminded me of this recent article in the Guardian about bad style and cliches – the comments underneath the article are funny and instructive too.
I didn’t leave a comment myself but it did make me think of ‘hot tears’, which I recently named in the Keeping Up Appearances class as the number one descriptive cliche to be found in class assignments. Fans of the phrase will be pleased to hear that it isn’t just limited to unpublished stuff though. S.J. Watson’s hit novel Before I Go to Sleep not only has the main character feel the scald of ‘hot tears’ but on another occasion ‘. . . tears rolled down [her] face, hot as acid . . . .’ Ouch, sounds painful – but not as painful as it was to read.
For further criminal acts of a cliched kind see: