From the Best of Blake’s Blogs: Cliché Alert!!
This blog, originally posted on January 8, 2006, now links to the 2012 List of Banished Words from Lake Superior State University. So read on for the latest clichés to avoid:
As stated repeatedly in Save the Cat!, the screenwriter’s job is to constantly scour our writing looking for the cliché — and stomp it out. Whether it’s the hackneyed idea, the dull turn of phrase, or the been-there-bored-by-that character, it’s our duty to make everything about our screenplays — and our writing — POP!
And that means never settling for what is less than fresh and new.
I’ve just finished reviewing my usual 1000 words a day and found them laced with phrases like “when push comes to shove,” “the be all and end all,” and “don’t go there.” Ugh! But instead of beating myself up — for too long, anyway — I see these “place holders” for what they are: an opportunity to liven up my writing with a fresh way to say the same thing — by saying it my way.
Toward that end, here is a link to the “banished words for 2012” — those tired, and let’s face it, lazy phrases that are now officially “out.” It’s an incomplete list, but a funny one. And worth a look.
What is your most common screenwriting cliché? Is it the FADE IN: that begins with a car chase, murder, or young girl running through a forest being pursued by some loudly breathing — but unseen — monster?
Is it the staid character that uses tired phrases in the attempt for the screenwriter to sound “hip” for “the kids” in the audience?
Odds are if it feels like you’ve seen it or heard it somewhere before, it’s time to re-think and re-write. That comforting feeling that “It’s like a movie, therefore it’s safe for me to use it” is in fact misleading you into the world of Cliché Alert! And as they say in the now tired words from my writing today: Go there not!
- Rhonda Misson
Detectives knock on door. Door opens. Detectives show credentials.
“Gooday, I’m Detective…… and my partner Detective…..
A much beloved cliche of British TV series.
Protagonist runs to a car while being chased and the car has problems starting.
When someone calls someone else on a phone. The other person answers the phone immediately. If the person does not answer, someone is in grave danger.
Police and FBI agent fight over jurisdiction of a crime scene.
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One way I determine if an idea I have is cliche is how quickly I come up with it. If I come up with a seemingly good idea within only a few seconds, I know I subconsciously plagiarized it from another movie I saw somewhere.