I’d never given much thought to cliché phrases, even when my editor suggested I delete a line in my book for being too cliché.  I don’t remember the phrase because I promptly deleted it.  The last thing I wanted to be was an old cliché writer.  But in the past few months, I’ve come to realize, I like these phrases, so much so, that I say them without thinking.

One night, while playing cards with “the girls”, my daughter overheard our conversation.  Lucky for me, the subject had not yet turned naughty. It went something like this:

“I don’t know about you, but my hand is awful,” the diva said, frowning as she glanced at my cards.

The game had not made it to the bluffing stage yet so I responded, “Yeah.  Mine’s not anything to write home about.”

“Mom, you say the weirdest things,” my daughter snickered from the other room.  “What does that even mean?”

A week later, when my son came stumbling into the family room, tripping on the rug, and bumping into the sofa table, I said, “Gosh, Ben, you’re like a bull in a china shop!”

Disregarding the pictures he’d just knocked over, he looked at me and said, “Did you just make that up?”

He prides himself on his ability to be witty and he seemed pretty impressed that his mother could come up with such a quip.  I was tempted to let him believe it was true but curiosity got the best of me and I just had to ask, “You’ve never heard that phrase before?”

“I’ve never heard a lot of things you say before,” he said.

I was surprised.

Hence, the ongoing cliché phrase battle began.  Texting cliché phrases with my older sister for two days straight proved to be entertaining, and my daughter now looks for them in all the books she reads.  I even poke fun at myself now when I catch myself saying one.

Which prompted me to ponder this question:  If I write for a generation
(the young adults) that has never heard some of these phrases, how can they be cliché?  The very definition is a phrase or word that has lost its original effectiveness or power from overuse.  As far as my kids are concerned, as well as a few of my friends, I am quite original when I say, “This isn’t the first time I’ve jumped into the deep end of the pool without a life vest.”

What do you think? Should we bring back some of those nearly forgotten phrases and take credit for being so creative?  Maybe you know a phrase I don’t. I would love to hear it!

Categories: author YA fiction | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment

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  1. I must admit (furtively, because writers shouldn’t) that I am a sucker for a good cliche too. Sure, some are hackneyed, but some are a good, shorthand way to get an idea across. Well, so I argue to myself. I hadn’t thought that to a different generation, they might be novelties! Funny!

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