for writers and readers….

Enough Already…Well-Loved Literary Clichés

 MirrorJoanne Harris, author of fourteen novels including Chocolat, has put together ten of  her favourites literary clichés.
They include:
The protagonist who describes herself whilst standing in front of the mirror.
Exposition Man, who says things like: “As you know, we’ve been brothers for twenty years…”
Women Who Play With their Hair. Tossing; tucking; flicking; smoothing – almost as annoying as Women Who Bite Their Lip.
Read the full list on her tumblr account where she has also written a short story that crams as many clichés as she can.
I suspect the opening will give you a sense of deja vu….and it includes one of my pet hates: revealing the colour of the hero’s eyes. Of all the footling crumbs of information to burden the reader with this must be the most useless. The only memorable description I’ve ever read that was worth the ink was in a teenage magazine many, many years ago. It was the caption to a photograph of Omar Sharif.  His eyes are melted chocolate swimming in pools of nougat
No? Well, I guess you had to be 11, just seen Doctor Zhivago and never read anything like it before…over to Joanne.
Doctor_ZhivagoThe bedside alarm rang loudly, wresting Lake from her fitful dreams of the devastatingly handsome and charming stranger she had met just the night before at a college party. For a moment she wondered why she had been dreaming of him. With his tumbling locks of chestnut hair, his disconcertingly direct blue gaze and his annoying habit of looking at her quizzically, while brushing a stray speck of dust from the cuff of his expensive Armani suit, he most emphatically wasn’t her type.

photo credit: This Is A Wake Up Call via photopin cc
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4 comments on “Enough Already…Well-Loved Literary Clichés

  1. D. Wallace Peach
    January 26, 2015

    The mirror description is one I see a lot. It definitely belongs in the cliche category. Yay!

    • bridget whelan
      January 27, 2015

      It’s been done so often I can’t see even a brilliant writer pulling it off.
      It’s also not true…who looks into a mirror and sees ash blond hair lightly streaked by the sun, or hazel eyes that hide an inner saddness?
      No, we are much more likely to notice the spot developing or worry that our foundation is a shade darker than it should be…

  2. michellejoycebond
    January 28, 2015

    Love it! There’s a twitter that reminds me of this: Hilarious. 🙂

    • bridget whelan
      January 28, 2015

      Sorry to see that worstmuse hasn’t posted on twitter since the summer – seems like he or she was on a mission to reveal the worst story lines. This tweet is brilliant:

      You’re right. The world DOES need another novel about an aging English professor’s affair with a nubile young co-ed.

      Thanks for sharing – gotta spread the message!

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This entry was posted on January 26, 2015 by in Muse and tagged , , , , .


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