I think the worst I've ever heard is when a friend actually said 'LOL' out loud in substitute for 'That's funny.' That's when I knew text abbreviations were getting out of control.
I sometimes wonder if politicians understand that they all look like complete idiots when somehow they seem to twitter or text each other the buzz word for the subject of the day, and all appear on different news channels using the same buzz word. Then montages are made of them all saying the same word over and over. I'd rather them use sharp, concise, logic on me, rather than believing some moronic hypnotic catch phrase will get me to side with them. Any chance we can keep the phrases and banish the politicians instead? No, well it was just a thought.
[This message has been edited by walexander (edited January 02, 2011).]
Well, I have less problem with "overused" words and catch phrases as much as people who aspire to be the language police. These are people who are still trying to impress, or maybe *become* their high school English teacher.
The very worst are those who crusade against new words. Like King Canute, they set up their thrones on the beach and command the tides of linguistic change to stop.
There are only three faults in writing truly worth condemning:
1) to write about that which we do not understand or haven't thoroughly examined;
2) to exploit the inattention or ignorance of the reader;
3) to obscure our meaning, either accidentally or intentionally.
These faults have corresponding virtues:
1) to have thoroughly imagined or thought through what we want to say;
2) to engage the imagination and reason of the reader;
3) to write clearly.
I don't see clichés per se as a big problem. The big interrelated problems I see are laziness, pretentiousness, and lack of clarity. Those come from the three faults I listed above. The problem is the writer who wants to carry a reader to a conclusion without doing the work of engaging his imagination and reason. Clichés and catch words are only a problem if the writer is salting a half-baked effort with the magic pixie dust of linguistic fashion. If a cliché hits the nail on the head, use it, I say.
There's a fault I see in manuscripts which is the fraternal twin of lazy word choice. I call it "hard sell". Hard sell is telling readers what to think without envisioning what is to be thought in detail. On example is using adverbs to decorate dialog tags (e.g. "he said angrily"). Well conceived dialog makes most adverb use on tags superfluous.
Another related problem I see is the failure for characters in manuscripts to speak or act in an emotionally convincing way. That is because the writer hasn't imagined a reasonable response in the scene, and hopes the reader hasn't noticed. Just like the lazy writer who reaches for a cliché, the emotionally tin-eared writer bulks up his scene with semantic fluff. The exercise of good word choice helps a great deal with this problem. Does the character feel "shame" or "guilt"? "Happiness" or "joy"? "Malice" or "loating"? "Fear" or "anxiety"?
[This message has been edited by MattLeo (edited January 02, 2011).]
I now hate the word epic. It is forever ruined. It is an epic loss to my vocabulary.
I also hate when authors have a somewhat less-than-common word that they use often within a novel. Specifically, I read a Teddy Roosevelt biography that used the word adroit more than ten times and it really started annoying me.
I kind of agree Matt, but I've also noticed in doing a lot of research into it, because I suffer from a lot of problems with dialog myself. That it is a balance. Even a well crafted dialog needs explanation sometimes, but your right; it should not be: And he said angrily. It also should not be at the level that only code breakers could understand whats happening. I would rather have a writer give me some clue to what is happening than no clue at all.
I guess what I'm trying to say is a writer also has to careful not to out cleaver his/her own writing by just believing of course the readers are going to understand the emotion of their MC by their complex well structured paragraph, and grammar proper dialog with 'he asked, she said' at the end of them.
As for over used words. It doesn't really matter to me. As writers it becomes part of the job to broaden vocabulary. So you can't blame a non-writer for enjoying the functionality of common catch phrases. I personally don't like texting unless its a situation where I can't talk or hear, but I discourage my friends from texting when they could call. I don't like how impersonal it is, and I feel it has become a tool of laziness or avoidance. I really don't like when I'll be sitting with a friend and they'll be talking to me and at the same time having a text conversation with someone else. If you want to see me get irritated fast, that will do it. The only exceptions are talking with there kids, there boss, an emergency, or maybe - if their text buddy is the president, but otherwise put the phone down or stop wasting my time.
Actually, I think they have a point about some of those words being overused.
But I noticed W, used another over used phrase that probably isn't on the list. I didn't read the whole list. But I thought the idea was interesting especially for those of us doing the query challenge.
However changing the topic slightly wordcaster gave me two thoughts. No not with what he said but with his user name. Number One, I may change mine to another one I seriously considered putting on a business card if I ever sell another story. Actually, come to think of it there's two I've considered. The first one isn't that original even though I haven't seen it used much.
But the second idea is that I have been trying to come up with a new term for Wizard, especially for my UF. Not Mage even though I've used that, not magician or any of the other well known terms. Word Caster might be it or something close. It gives me a whole new area to think though. Thanks.
I think Matt hit the proverbial head on the proverbial nail, not to sound cliché or anything...
But seriously. I think clichés have their pros and cons. Take, for example, the sentence: "Matt turned as white as a sheet." Suppose you want to lose the cliché. Is it better to write, "Matt turned the color of spilled milk across alabaster tile"? Or "Matt's complexion rivaled that of a newly opened Easter lily"?
If, in trying to avoid a cliché, you overstretch and reach into the absurd, have you not done worse? Often, using a cliché can speed the reader on without distracting him by forcing him to ask, "What the heck are they trying to say?" If I can tell the writer is trying too hard to be original, then I lose faith in him.
Don't try to impress me with your ability to reinvent what has already been said well enough. Tell me the story I want to hear, and don't rely on tricks like that to win me over! I guarantee you, readers see through it.
If you want to spend your time trying to describe the color of Matt's face in a way it has never been done before, go be a poet, for heaven's sake.
[This message has been edited by J. N. Khoury (edited January 03, 2011).]
J.N. -- I have to say I *never* turn white as a sheet. It's my Chinese hillbilly ancestors who picked rice under the brutal sun of the deep south. Cafe au lait with just a bit too much milk is as white as I get.
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Well somebody had to. Much like me and mine did cotton. Although, I must say, get me out of the sun for a couple months and I'm pretty white. It's my Spanish/German side.
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Haha, thanks for the image, Matt. Sorry for picking on you Despite my Arabic side, my full-blooded Scottish mum kindly made sure I am pretty much always white as a sheet.
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Doubtless to the horror of my Norwegian, Welsh, Scot, Irish, and English ancestors, after 26 years of living in the desert, I'm burned that permanent brown of the true desert rat.
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