marycatelli (marycatelli) wrote,

cliches and resonance

One needs to have a lot of respect for cliches.  Nothing gets to be a cliche without good reason, because without good reason, it would not get used over and over and over and over again. . . .

Which means it has to resonate emotionally or carry plot forward effectively or delineate character effectively.  I have actually heard grumbles that a wise old man the characters meet will know things to help them.  Like a wise old man who does nothing for them is plot-relevent enough to be mentioned.  The death of the mentor -- how else can the student show he is his equal except by managing without him?  With bonus points for providing a motivation, too.

Then again, cliches are notorious for having no resonance, for having all the emotion drained out of them by over-use. . . .

It can be hard to judge because it's subjective.  Not just in how often you've seen it before, but how well it resonated for you.  A cliche that carries a lot of punch for you can still be powerful when the cool kids are saying it's oh so five minutes ago.

Tags: cliches, motivations, plot devices, theme, writing audience

  • Sidelights on New London and Newer York and Other Essays

    Sidelights on New London and Newer York and Other Essays by G.K. Chesterton Chesterton mostly on the Jazz Age. The first two parts are heavily…

  • Of Other Worlds

    Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories by C.S. Lewis I review only the essays, the fiction being most curiosities. But it includes his treatment of…

  • Avowals and Denials

    Avowals and Denials - A Book of Essays by G.K. Chesterton A selection of essays written by Chesterton in 1934. More or less topical. It helps, for…

  • Post a new comment


    Anonymous comments are disabled in this journal

    default userpic

    Your reply will be screened

    Your IP address will be recorded