Preying on my mind
I’ve had clichés on my mind rather a lot recently (and yes, you don't need to point it out - I know, and it was intentional) … they tend to come in for a lot of criticism from some; although it could be said that any critic who accuses a book of being clichéd is guilty of hypocrisy. Or maybe simply doesn’t recognise a cliché when it jumps up and bites them on the nose.
Is there any such thing as a bad cliché? Personally I’ve always liked ‘It was a dark and stormy night’. Cliché or not, I’ve always thought it a perfect opening line to a book or a chapter. I mean, you read those words and are hooked – because you just know that something exciting and dramatic must surely be about to happen, so you keep on reading to find out. It sets the scene perfectly for some kind of knicker-gripping event …
So I just don’t subscribe to the view that the only good cliché is a dead cliché. I think they have their place – their very familiarity can be comforting, can make for quick, easy reading at times and are less likely to slow the action in fast-paced plots. What’s more, if you consider that a cliché is an expression which lacks originality and impact through overuse – what about those who have never come across them before? When you meet a cliché for the first time, for you if not others, it will be original and have impact and be a bright and shiny thing. It is only as you grow older and read more that it starts to lose its lustre. Although in some cases, with time it acquires a less gaudy and more attractive patina instead.
I rest my case.
I'm considering setting up a rescue centre for abandoned, mistreated and neglected clichés, with an attached annexe to rehome the sad and elderly ones that no-one wants any more, having thrown them out in favour of younger phrases and fashionable mixed metaphors. Please give one a home - but if you are unable to, then please donate generously. Donations of wine, cake and chocolate are accepted as well as hard currency ...