March 03, 2008

The Cliche and what you can do to reinvent it

The Cliche and what you can do to reinvent it. from "cliches must die workshop"

The dictionary defines a cliche as a "phrase, an expression, or idea that has been overused to the point of loosing its intended force or novelity". The appearance of cliche in writing or speech can indicate a lack of creativity, innovation, or sincerity on the part of the author/orator.

Common Cliches

when pigs fly
fall head over heels
rotten to the core
an uphill battle
he's all thumbs
throw gasoline on the fire
a shot in the dark
get off your high horse
no guts, no glory
white as snow
running on empty
a fish out of water
penny for your thoughts
airing dirty laundry
in glass houses, don't throw stones
through thick and thin
life is like a box of chocolates
thorn in your side
you are my heart and soul
love you to bits and pieces
Darkness is looming
From here to Timbuktu
The whole nine yards
A fly in the ointment
Ugly as sin
Put it on my tab
Dimond in the rough
Lost in no mans land
See you later alligator
Life is a bowl of cherries
Flat as a pancake
A good man is hard to find
Idle hands are the devils workshop
Rome wasn't built in a Day
It doesn't cut the mustard
I will have the last laugh
Never look a gift horse in the mouth
Cuts like a knife
Armed to the teeth

Try to reinvent a simple idea and saying for eg.

cliche: "get off your high horse" ==> "Your stride is as high as the horse you can't get off".

You can use these cliches in a poetry exercise.

You incorporate the cliche somewhere in your poem. Use the cliche wherever, however, and whenever you want. You don't have to use the whole line as it is printed. Just try to reinvent the cliche. Write as if the idea is brand new to you, make it brand you to others. Make bizarre comparisons to it. Compare it to your life. Compare it to someone else's. Play around with it like cold mashed potatoes. Roll with it take your time, Don't be afraid to share your poem with others.

Heli: this is somewhat of an Americanised and potentially dry word/vocab exercise. (From a poetry mag in the usa) Although, when you think carefully about language aquisition there are many corny yet connecting cliches and in some particular styles of writing there is a place for reinventing them and using them for any desired effect, or for trying to avoid them having recognised the cliche. In New Zealand our cliches, out slang and our sense of identity expressed via language are very much influenced by a changing and incoming flux of ideas from various markets, voices, texts and imagery. Historically this is not new news and in my opinion, writers eager to preserve a place in the discourse need to keep looking both forwards and to our pasts for making their written contributions relevant to their purpose and to an audience/or reader that is so diverse and unique.

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Caesar, 47 B.C


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