Thursday, December 10, 2015 | By: The Write Way Cafe

Dump the Clichés? Will they Still Get It?

The Write Way Café welcomes Ashley York, who discusses tips to avoid telling instead of showing.

When I first started writing full-time, one of my favorite things to do was to try to pick out just the correct words to describe expressions people made. I wanted to catch just the right movements to convey that same emotion because when you experience the person making "the face," the emotion is conveyed without question. My husband's favorite expression is a lopsided grin that sort of tucks in at one corner. His conveyed emotion? Censure. I'd describe it as his "are you really going to say that?" look. And, naturally, my response is "Don't give me that look."

We all want to show and not tell, but how best to go about it?

One of the most common ways is to use what's familiar.  And why is it so familiar? Because we've read it over and over and over again. That is the very definition of cliché-overuse. It's easy to slip these in without even realizing it. I've had critique partners "correct" my words to turn them into the well-known cliché. And I said "thank you!" <Smack the forehead> The sentence just seemed to sound right after that. We were familiar with it. We knew what it meant. But STOP! It was a cliche—overused; losing its original impact; trite. Is that really how we want to write? When we spend so much time selecting just the right word? I'd venture a guess and say "NO!" How to avoid it? I admit I'm not always able to avoid them. If there are ten clichés, trust me, there use to be fifty :)

How do your favorite authors avoid writing clichés when they describe expressions and gestures that we all do every day?  Please share!

About Ashley: Aside from two years spent in the wilds of the Colorado mountains, Ashley York is a proud life-long New Englander and a hardcore romantic. She has an MA in History which brings with it, through many years of research, a love for primary documents and the smell of musty old libraries. With her author's imagination, she likes to write about people who could have lived alongside those well-known giants from the past.

Connect with her online:
Twitter: @ashleyyork1066


HiDee said...

Definitely something to think about, Ashley. Thank you for being with us today!

Ashley York said...

Thanks, HiDee, for having me.