9.21.2006

At the end of the day...

Courtesy of my favorite tool comes the link to NewsThinking and a post about cliches.

There are quite a few things that show up a LOT on this blog:
Nitwit, serial scrubbers, Rabbitania, "it's the writing, stupid", "setting her hair on fire".

So, what's the difference between a catch phrase and a cliche?
When does something go from cute and funny to overused and smelly?

Let me know what you think.

85 comments:

otto said...

After about a year it quickly becomes tiresome at the very least.

Anonymous said...

I hate "at the end of the day". Maybe I should have worked harder to avoid watching Big Brother, but it's not just Americans that like that one.

The more virulent the meme, the more annoying it is, and the annoyance level is what determins the difference between cliche and catch phrase.

kathryn magendie said...

Okay, I admit it - I can't stand cliches or catch-phrases in my writing and if one creeps in, I burn it off the page quickly, before it leaves a mark. If a cliche or catchphrase sneaks its way in, I would be embarrassed--its just a thang with me. However, if I had a character who used those things, and I used it in the dialogue, that would be okay, if I was trying to be funny hahaha (and even then, I an stomach only a little). Shoot, it's easier to write a cliche, much harder to say something original. But, when you are as brilliant as I am - why, oh, I'm much to modest to complete that statement.

Some things get on my nerves more than others - like what I call "Business Letter Catch Phrase/Cliche." And I'll be danged if I can remember any right now.

To me, they are one in the same - with perhaps a few nuances that may seperate them (did I just spell serperate correctly-it looks funny...), but the effect on me is the same...they don't belong in the (my) writing, and I 'm talking writing here, but I suppose in this day and age as time goes on in the real world of conversifying when they hook up like two cats on a fence when the rosy fingers of dawn appears over their heads which are white as snow, I suppose (sh)it happens.

Nick said...

I guess clichés are catch phrases that stood the test of time (hm, there's one right there) almost too well.

Clichés were unique and original once, but they just got overused.

-Nick

Pepper Smith said...

I think they become cliche the moment people begin slotting them into place in sentences without giving thought to what they actually mean, or whether there are other ways of saying it that would work as well or better. In other words, when the phrases become language furniture rather than shiny works of art on the walls.

HawkOwl said...

It's a cliche as soon as someone else repeats it.

Calamity Jane said...

A cliche is both unimaginative and over-used. (Take the lyrics to any boy-band ballad, for example). Whenever I hear one, I want to beat my forehead against my desk. (To understand the feeling, say the words "Paris Hilton" and "That's Hot!"...)

A catch phrase becomes larger than life until it neatly sums up the essence of someone/something without further explanation. For example, when a tall, dark, handsome Brit says "Bond, James Bond," no one has to tell me I'm in for one sexy ride.

Fear not, Oh Snarktastic One, your catch phrases do the trick. You say "nitwit"; I think "Here lies a poor soul who, through ignorance, ineptitude, or sheer stupidity, has thoughtlessly taken on the indomitable Miss Snark." No one has to tell me to read on.

Now, if you'll excuse me. I need a margarita - shaken, not stirred.

Anonymous said...

I think a catch phrase becomes tiresome when it's used to foster inclusiveness in a perceived "exclusive" club or clique or whatever. Mid-level executives heard Donald Trump use "At the end of the day..." on The Apprentice, and from that point on, every contestant on the show used it like a mantra.

On this blog, the legions will repeat (over and over again) anything that you say in order to gain your approval. If you said you were sexually attracted to Carrottop, I've no doubt that all of the posters to this blog would suddenly find his flaming locks irresistable. I might think George Clooney is a jackass, but would I say it here? Not on your life, unless I wanted to be black-balled from the cool table in the cafeteria. I'd never heard the term "clue gun" used before I started reading this blog, but wow, your followers can't say it enough. If they use nitwit, clue gun, and Clooney all in the same post, I've no doubt they wait with quivering bladder for your approval.

So, to sum it up, in a nutshell, at the end of the day it is what it is...

Anonymous said...

I hate it when someone says they're "coming on board," or any variation thereof.
The usage has kind of fallen out of favor now, thank goodness. But for about ten years, all these nautical references to hiring, joining, whatever, were awful.
And so were the people they applied to.

Anonymous said...

I am embarrassed to read reporters using cliches in their articles. Years ago, it was instructed to us budding writers to NEVER, EVER, use them. In fact, a list was issued as 'off limit'.

I do understand that the writers who incorporate the phrases into their articles, stories, etc., may or may not be intentional useage. But isn't that an editor's job to catch and strike them from every page? Or find a different writer?

With american lanuage changing, accepting more slang as universal, I can believe the over use of cliches. And, I can believe the writers have overlooked this rule.

I am glad someone actually tracks this usage, as it frees an agent's time to concentrate on more important details--like selling the author's work and pocketing a fistful of greenbacks.

Inkwolf said...

I write humor.

Cliché is vital to humor.

One key to absurdity is surprise. You have to convince the reader's subconscious that you are going in a particular direction, and then send 'em somewhere else. Using clichés is a good way to do this. It lulls your head into a dull, matter-of-fact frame of mind, and a sudden swerve into bizarro-land comes as a shock to the funny bone. For instance, Jan's little boy was as cute as a bug. A preying mantis, to be precise, or possibly a cockroach.

It works the same way in reverse, attaching clichés to relevant outré situations. Like, for instance, imagine a cartoon--it's a drawing of a huge packing crate, with chains wrapped aoround it and a big lock and signs saying 'Danger! Company Executives Enclosed! Do NOT open! Ever!' And coming from inside the crate is a tiny little word balloon--someone saying, "Gentlemen, I want you to think outside the box."

Funny? Well, depends on your sense of humor, among other things. (I find it funny because that catchphrase makes me gag, and I harbor deep suspicions of corporate types.) in any case, putting a cliché where it doesn't belong is an excellent form of bathos.

And some clichés are just funny on their own because they ARE clichés. "Impending doom" is my all-time favorite. (Actually, I find just about anything with 'doom' in it funny.) I mean, can you even imagine the phrase 'impending doom' being used in a serious manner?

When it comes to serious writing (which I don't really do) my personal preference is this: if you're going to do it, stick with old, tried-and-true clichés which I can read without blinking--get back on the horse, raining cats and dogs, yo mamma tried to boil water and burned it, singing like a lark and looking like the cat who swallowed the cream-covered canary and croaked from curiousity..

But catchphrases and new clichés, especially current, trendy (or recently-trendy) ones, unless they're being used as dialogue to show that a character is a moronic drone or hopelessly behind the times, are jarring and annoying.

Linda said...

Back in the 80s, when I was a teenager trying to be cool and witty, I developed the bad habit of constantly injecting highly polished cliches, catch-phrases, and neologisms into my speech. Now I've got to police what I say rigorously to keep them out.

It's not that it's become unfashionable to speak that way, it's that I can't stand to sound like a cheesy imitation of Stephen Colbert. Friends seem to find me amusing when I am lazy and careless (and thus at my most "purple" and epigrammatic).

This is my acid test when I am writing correspondence: am I constructing a sentence or an argument around a nugget of triteness? If so, it goes. If such a word or phrase simply crops up in the course of developing my main thrust, well, so be it (unless I think of a better and less sound-bytable way to say it.)

I think one's own key phrases and words become annoying when they are repeated back by the socially inept. If that starts happening, it's almost certainly time to update. But that's the elder sibling in me speaking.

judy said...

I think that nitwit, serial scrubber, and the likes are your trademarks and you should register them before someone steals them. These words and phrases are firmly associated with your blog and they have their own meaning right here on these pages.

I think you should put them on a banner across your blog. It could say: Welcome to Rabbitania, home of Miss Snark, her nitwits, and a few serial scrubbers.

Then you could have a glossary of terms used on your blog (a sidebar on the right) and it might be required of nitwits that they read said glossary before they can ask a question so they are well versed in the language of this blog. That alone might diminish the nitwit population by half because once they got through that, they'd know that obviously they are not in Kansas.

You could also post an "Are YOU A Nitwit?" quiz in that same sidebar with a list of about ten questions which would immediately warn a visitor of his/her very high nitwit status and having been forewarned, they might not be so hostile when you call them a nitwit on these pages.

Just my thoughts. I know we were talking about cliches and catch phrases, but I tend to veer off subject as a rule.

Anonymous said...

Once you hear everyone saying the same thing, UGH, it's cringe time.

"Absolutely."

"It is what it is."

And on this blog: "Dear Dog."

ugh

Ryan Field said...

I've been trying to explain this to a client for whom I edit and he simply isn't getting the concept. I'm printing this page and forcing him to read the comments.

M. G. Tarquini said...

When politicians hook into it, it's time to toss the phrase.

cudd said...

I believe your catch phrases will only become cliche when the world outside of your blog starts using them frequently enough that the immediate association to your blog is no longer there. As is, they simply reinforce your identity.

Anonymous said...

Most of your writing here isn't cliched; it's full of catch-phrases--things that you, Miss Snark, are known for saying. They're not cliches because (no disrespect intended) they haven't become part of the general lexicon outside of this blog. And even if "serial scrubbers" does catch on writ large, you shouldn't worry because you invented it.

My own experience: I read Martin Amis's collection of criticism, "The War Against Cliche," and haven't written another cliche since.

-MJO'D

Harry Connolly said...

It's a catchphrase as long as it refers back to a specific person, community of usage. "Where's the beef?" was a catchphrase. "Rabbitania" is like slang--it reinforces a sense of community and marks the person who says it as a snarkling (or as the over-Snark, of course).

blaironaleash said...

'Comfortable in my own skin'.

I'm pretty tolerant and aware of my own failings. But I do want to do extreme physical violence when I hear this spew-inducer.

snarkfodder said...

What's with all the snarkling-bashing going on? Geez, not very nice, folks. Miss Snark's catch phrases are repeated by the Snarklings as an inside joke shared among "friends," not a cliche. It's like a private language for a somewhat private club. NO NITWITS ALLOWED says the sign under the treehouse.

I think that a phrase is cliche when it passes into popular usage after the source is widely forgotten. Rabbitania is safe... for now.

Inkwolf said...

,b.cudd said...
"As is, they simply reinforce your identity.",b.

Yes, they're the 'running gags' of the blog. (I forgot to mention that repetition is also an excellent tool in humor.) :)

stephanie said...

"Thinking outside the box," drives me insane. IN. SANE.
Because what does that even mean anymore? It's also an interviewer's favorite question: Can you think outside of the box?
Um...yes? No? But what if I'm in the box and all you people are out? Then, wouldn't it be better if I was thinking in the box?
Not to mention, that everything I just wrote is probably something someone else wrote at one point.

I try to be an original writer, but sometimes I'll read over a page and there's a line like, "He burst through the door."
Burst? Oh, the humanity.
Oh, the humanity? What a cliche!
It's a sad, sick cycle.

pj said...

Someone correct me if I'm wrong (don't rush, now!), but I believe a cliche is figurative language which has lost its freshness due to overuse.

Of course a lot of our language is figurative without us even realizing it ("acid test" is a good example). But not all figurative language becomes cliche (of course), and not all catch phrases CAN become cliches, IMHO. "How you doin'" may be an overused catch phrase, but not a cliche.

Language is a dynamic, living, ever-marvelous thing.

--E said...

It's a cliche when the entire phrase is stored in the brain in the same way a single word is, and then regurgitated as grammatic unit. The result is often a malapropism, or at least an evident misunderstanding of the original meaning of the phrase.

This is demonstrated by the use of "concerted effort" when one means "strong effort" by a single individual. It's not that the writer doesn't know what "concerted" means (although obviously they don't); it's that the whole phrase "concerted effort" is stored in their head as a unit: "concertedeffort."

A cliche has become separated from its original use; when it was first used, it was probably a clever turn of phrase that related to the original situation in multiple ways. Now its slotted into gaps it wasn't cut for.

A catchphrase still has the memory of original application clinging to it. "Nitwit" on the blog of Miss Snark is a catchphrase. If millions of other bloggers start adopting it, it will become a cliche. (Which is not to say that Miss Snark invented the term--we know she didn't--but she adoped it for a particular use: the labeling of a blog correspondent who asks a question that makes them sound very stupid.)

Volume also has a lot to do with it. When the mass media start talking about Clue Guns, it will be time for Miss Snark to upgrade her weaponry.

delilah said...

Can a person, other than Paris Hilton, be a cliche?

It's my greatest fear.

Bernita said...

The media cliche that irritates me most is "tip of the iceberg."

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Golly gee willikers, I'm so puzzled over this one that I could cry. The beats me how any sane person could use hackneyed and trite and clichéd phrases. I edit them out faster than you can say, "Bob's your uncle." (Actually, Bob is my uncle. I have too uncles named Bob.)

Before break of day, before the sun's glorious rays strike the clouds making them glow in cotton-candy-like splendor, before you can yawn twice, I red pencil them out. I've created a new paradigm of structured, cliché-free writing by my attention to detail and my American-like work ethic. (Except I hear the American work ethic has been shot all to hell.)

I never over use parentheses (or seldom do). And I will gladly show anyone who thinks to the contrary where the Bear went in the Buckwheat!

At the end of the day, when all's been said and done, when it's time for the total to be taken, the sums to be summed, and the assessments to be made, using clichés is just rude. It's just so Barbie!

My new approach to writing, which is, I'm sure, Bigger and Better, Whiter and Brighter, and, when measured by any yard-stick, simply superior, will guide me into all the ways of right thinking and publication. Editors will love it. I think you should join the crowd, get on board, let the wave of the future in writing become the captain of your life, and write like I do, with simple, direct sentences free from the mundane clichés of life.

Manic Mom said...

Where's the Beef was a catchphrase.

That lady's dead, right?

Anonymous said...

Wouldn't it be just peachy if WORD would highlight catch-cliches in our documents? Maybe some Snarky reader can come up with a plug-in.
I'd buy it!

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of an old Loudon Wainwright III song called "Absence Makes the Heart Grow Fonder" which contains the memorable verse:

"The joke's on me/you get the last laugh/I found out the hard way/you was my better half/and now, I'm the worse for the wear."

It all boils down to this-uh-do things boil down? I would've thought they fried down. Never mind.

Anonymous said...

It is my opinion that a catchphrase becomes a cliche when it is overused, used indiscriminately and used incorrectly.

word verification: burpzsh (noun meaning drunken burp)

Anonymous said...

Like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Or a whore in church (that's my personal favorite) Yep, serious as a judge on a rape case.

Eric said...

I consider it the lesser of two evils to make like and baby and head out, instead of staying indoors cooped up like a chicken.

With a wing and a prayer I hit the ground running, pushing the envelope and keeping my nose to the grinstone, drinking life to the leeds and taking no prisoners, as I make like a tree and leave so much scorched earth in my wake.

That having been said, like so many of you here, I hate cliches.

p.n. elrod said...

So long as Miss Snark and her Snarklings use those words/phrases they are cute and funny, for we are a cute and funny crew.

If it shows up on Letterman, Leno or (shudder) Oprah, it's cliche and smelly.

Let's not overthink this, for the weekend looms ahead.

:Sitting at the cool table with the cool kids and a TUB of gin (to share).:

Nellie said...

When it's used to the point where most people have heard it. Overused about sums it up.

xiqay said...

When does something go from cute and funny to overused and smelly?

Oh, Miss Snark, that's an easy one. It's cute and funny when I use it. It's overused and smelly (and cliche) when everybody else does.

So far, I think your special blog talk (add clue gun and gin pail) are fairly confined to your blog (and possibly a few of your snarklings' blogs), and so remain "fresh" and "sweet-scented." When they spread to other blogs and off the 'net, then they'll be trite.

jmho. (fresh and uncensored. now off to read what others have said)

Anonymous said...

Somebody remind me what "serial scrubber" is, okay?

oh yeah, and Rabbitania?

nitwit snarkling

xiqay said...

Thank you Calamity Jane, anon after CJ, Inkwolf, and Judy for some interesting thoughts on the topic.

Thanks you Harry Connolly for planting the uber-Snark idea in my head!

And Sha'el, Princess of Pixies, thanks for making me laugh with a great example.

Miss Snark, thanks for the topic. Always something to think about and learn here.

Ray Goldensundrop said...

MS Word 2003 can check a document for cliches.

Click Tools

Click Options

Click Spelling & Grammar

Click Settings

Scroll down to Settings heading

Check Cliches, Colloquialisms, and Jargon

Haven't tried this yet, but it seems possible to do a user dictionary that contains your own set of cliches.

I have poked around the Web for a separate cliche checker, but haven't found one. Maybe most major word processors already have a checker imbedded.

As far as my own way of detecting them, if the mass media latches on, stay away!

Personal dislike: Having said that . . .

delilah said...

Sha'el, I hope you were kidding(I think you were) about the American work ethic being shot all to hell. Everyone I know, including, I'm guessing Miss Snark, works close to eighty hours almost every week. We are a nation of perpetually exhausted people. If we work any harder, we will collapse.

Doooooooog, how I need a break!!

mcbun said...

McBun is offended. Rabbitania is neither a catch phrase nor a cliche. It's a small green planet just past Pluto.

theraspberrycordial said...

Viktor Shklovsky's Theory of Defamiliarisation (not defamiliarization you silly americans) explains it all beautifully

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Shklovsky

Simon Haynes said...

When more than one person uses it. The original is funny, and everyone else is getting a cheap laugh through imitation.
References to oranges excepted, though. That's an in-joke (!), and those are cool.
When people use, reuse and abuse the same phrases they lose all their sparkly originality.

Anonymous said...

When people start quoting you, you've arrived. But do you want to be a stationary object? Keep moving.

Anonymous said...

Actually, I think of the cliche as the salt in the dish: fine if it's the invisible bond linking other ingredients; apalling if it's evident and overused.

And the catchphrase? The pepper. (You knew that, didn't you?) Use lightly, or the merit of the dish is buried in it.

-Just Me

BJ Nemeth said...

I completely agree with Pepper Smith's beautifully written comment above:

"I think they become cliche the moment people begin slotting them into place in sentences without giving thought to what they actually mean ... when the phrases become language furniture rather than shiny works of art on the walls."

I am also a news reporter, and I find that cliches are a result of rushed writing. I'll occasionally find cliches in my own articles as I speed up the writing process on a deadline, but if I have any extra time I'll go back and edit them out. (My writing always improves after replacing cliches.)

Anonymous said...

It's a cliche as soon as someone else repeats it.

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

delilah said...
Sha'el, I hope you were kidding(I think you were) about the American work ethic being shot all to hell. Everyone I know, including, I'm guessing Miss Snark, works close to eighty hours almost every week. We are a nation of perpetually exhausted people. If we work any harder, we will collapse.


Well, it allowed me to include the phrase "shot all to hell," didn't it?

The entire post was meant as a joke. It's one cliché after another. I'm happy you figured out it was supposed to be funny.

Dang it, no one understands my humour. Maybe I'm just not too funny. I'm going to find a closet, hide in it, and pout!

Gargi said...

Hey Judy, agree with your comment whole-heartedly! ‘Welcome to Rabbitania, home of Miss Snark, her nitwits, and a few serial scrubbers’ sounds perfect as a banner for the blog, and the idea of a Nitwit Quiz is positively brilliant! But the aim of the quiz should be to drive away the nitwits rather than reduce their hostility!!

But then I shouldn’t be so harsh. After all, I might have been a nitwit once too!

Anonymous said...

I think one of the main differences between a catchphrase and a cliche is that a catchphrase is constantly being played with, updated, transformed, while a cliche has solidified.

A few days ago we were messing about with the 'clue gun' phrase - clue cannon, clue trebuchet, clueapult... The phrase is still 'alive', linguistically, so it's a catchphrase. When it solidifies to the point where people say it without even hearing it, and therefore it never occurs to them to mess around with it, then it's died: it's a cliche.

Corn Dog said...

I used to horse laugh every time my Gramma called someone a dope. She was not prone to do so, but used the term sparingly until her death at 99. My fav was when the electric company chased her down for a missing bill. She wrote the company a letter about the man who called her and penned, "This man is a dope." I laugh the same way when Miss Snark calls someone a nitwit. It all depends on the delivery and the deliverer whether catch phrases become smelly. Some become trademarks, freshly sealed in their little tm's.

Catch phrases sour quickly at companys. They have no shelf life. "Outside the box" has already been mentioned. No one can deliver anything there amusing or worth saving. At work I thought about homicide if anyone mentioned "on the same page" or "do lunch." I worked for the bank for many years whose motto was "Catch the next stage." Of course when anyone got fired or died, we always told everyone else, he had caught the next stage.

WitLiz Today said...

I could listen to cliche's and catch phrases till buffalos roam the hallways of Trump Plaza.

Sure, I do have major short term memory problems, but using cliche's and catch phrases properly is now an art form.

Very few people get away with using cliche's. MS is the exception, because her words flow like lava down a volcano melting everything in its path.

Her words are unstoppable, and you better get the hell out of the way. So used in this context, cliches work to perfection because it does slow down that lava flow a bit,giving you some time to get the hell out of dodge!

Frankly, we could all use that highly developed skill she has; witty repartee, combined with a staccato like voice. It's clearly an asset.

Of course another asset, which Calamity Jane so astutely pointed out was the speed at which a Margarita can dull the senses, making cliche's seem positively literary.

Jude Hardin said...

"At the end of the day..." is mentioned as a cliche in Stephen King's ON WRITING, published in 2000.

It's kind of sad that people are still using it, six years later.

Anonymous said...

IMO, it's a cliche when everyone's using it. Hence, "He knew no more," is a cliche. However, "dear dog" and "nitwit of the day" are catch phrases, not cliches, because only Miss Snark (and perhaps her Snarklings) use them. They would become cliche if books everywhere started using those lines (i.e. "Dear dog, what is that man doing on the roof? He sure looks like the nitwit of the day.")

Anonymous said...

Uh, gargi, don't be so sure you aren't one still...

Michele Lee said...

In case you're at a loss for something to write about :)
I hear beginning writers all the time say they're saving their rejects so that after they get that big book deal they can mail all the agents that rejected them and rub it in their faces. But, does anyone ever actually attempt this?

Rei said...

Inkwolf:

I'm surprised that nobody else commented on your post. You "hit the nail on the head". ;)

One of my favorite examples of turning a cliche on its head was in the Comedy Central Roast of William Shatner. Patton Oswalt concluded his grilling with something to the effect of:

"My friends and I are trying to settle a bet." He reaches down and pulls out a paper bag. "Could you act your way out of this for me?"

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I would RATHER here a cliché or a catchphrase than prose that just tries so hard to be artful, but veers off into the hilarious...

such as: "the stars bristled in the sky [i]like white flecks on black enameled roasting pan[/i].
-Janet Fitch, in Paint It Black

That sentence really sucks.

writtenwyrdd said...

I like Calamity Jane's explanation "A catch phrase becomes larger than life until it neatly sums up the essence of someone/something without further explanation."

But to add to that, a catch phrase is fresh enough it annoys at least one generation. As soon as the elder set (that includes middle-aged me) are using the terms, it goes into the realm of cliche.

Amusingly enough, all the "drug culture" terms from the 60s and 70s like 'cool', 'hey man', 'jonesing', and 'dude' are still being used and I get funny looks when California speak pops out of my mouth here in Maine.

Alison said...

MS Word 2003 can check a document for cliches.

Click Tools

Click Options

Click Spelling & Grammar

Click Settings

Scroll down to Settings heading

Check Cliches, Colloquialisms, and Jargon

Haven't tried this yet, but it seems possible to do a user dictionary that contains your own set of cliches.

I have poked around the Web for a separate cliche checker, but haven't found one. Maybe most major word processors already have a checker imbedded.


Hmm, I'll have to brace myself and try that.

Coincidentally, I stumbled across a commercial checker a couple of days ago, thought 'huh, that looks interesting', then forgot all about it. Haven't bought it so I can't vouch for whether it's any good.

http://www.handyarchive.com/Business/Word-Processing/2454-ClicheCleaner.html

Southern Writer said...

In my humble opinion, a phrase becomes so twenty minutes ago when it has reached The Tipping Point. And m.g. tarquini hit the nail on the head. (Did I really say that? My bad.) When it's picked up by the politicians, it's time to distance yourself from it. The same goes if you hear your parents say it. Grandmother Snark is, of course, excluded from this rule.

TMack said...

QUOTE:

I might think George Clooney is a jackass, but would I say it here? Not on your life, unless I wanted to be black-balled from the cool table in the cafeteria. I'd never heard the term "clue gun" used before I started reading this blog, but wow, your followers can't say it enough. If they use nitwit, clue gun, and Clooney all in the same post, I've no doubt they wait with quivering bladder for your approval.

You forgot the proverbial "pail of gin".

AnonyNoNo said...

At the end of the day does it really matter?

jude calvert-toulmin said...

Thanks for the favourite tool link, by the way, Snark,Warrior Princess :)

Anything to do with tools interests me and that link is very useful.

Anonymous said...

When hearing it makes you cringe. -JTC

delilah said...

No, no, no Sha'el. I totally get your humor - you're my favorite commentor. I was just too exhausted last night for anything to sink in. Sigh.

snarkaholic said...

I still don't understand what serial scrubbers are. I did a search on the blog, and the Snark FAQ provides no explanation.

Someone shoot me with the clue gun, please?

Mrs. Brain Bomb said...

Isn't it funny that "outside of the box" is a cliche. That's got enough contradiction for a brain fart. I almost used "shrouded in mystery" but opted for "veiled in incertainty" instead. I just started freelancing for a mag so this was a good time to read this post. Thanks, MS.

~Nancy said...

"Horror smash" was a new one on me.

However, the one cliche that sticks in my mind as most irksome is, "They wanted closure." (Or throw in "she" or "he" or "the surgeon".)

How many times do I have to hear that or read about it before I throw up? Can't newspeople come up with something better...or simpler?

Not that I can think of anything. But still. ;-)

~JerseyGirl

Dave Kuzminski said...

And what does all this suggest to me?

Next time Miss Snark chooses to run the Crapometer, why not make it fun by making it limited to short humor, say 250 words, with extra points for every cliche that the writer manages to insert intelligently so that it's even funnier? Or perhaps to queries meant to be snarky or weird, replete with, dare I say it, cliches? ;)

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Delilah,

You are way too kind. Don't worry a bit. Pixies have to pout, or we're not happy. One pout a day for health. Two pouts if you have more than ten sisters. (Pixies make a lot of babies.)No pouting if you're seeking your mate. It's not the pixie way.

If some human woman gets between you and your chosen, you are allowed to bite, but not fatally.

Biting is excused during the Life Ritual and during pregnancy when The Hunt comes upon us.

So ... what else can I tell you about pixie culture? Did I ever tell you about the time that ....

Ouch! My sisters won't let me tell that! Later maybe.

Chumplet said...

Yanno what? I didn't know "At the end of the day" was a cliche. I'd only heard it once or twice.

I might be because my mind is a sieve.

MichaelPH said...

I like the idea of inventing new catch phrases for my characters. Phrases which will become exclusive to my story. The reader feels he/she is part of the lexicon and therefore feels part of the story.

Anonymous said...

To all who are celebrating: Happy New Year!

Kanani said...

I think of a catchphrase as something that could be used to describe a situation in a satirical way. Example: SNAFU. It's a great catchphrase and it wouldn't bother me that much. They can also be used as a tic by a character, or better yet, the character can develop their own catchphrases.

A cliché is a way to describe something or even a plot or a reaction that has been seen many many times.

But still, both can be annoying when overused.

Avoiding them? Well, it helps to study poety. Some of the freshest writing and description of imagery may be found there.

Dave Kuzminski said...

'Tis said, by those who wrote Atlanta Nights that it takes an expert to write truly bad work. This might be a golden opportunity for some of us to get it out of our system, say about Thanksgiving or Christmas when there's some slack time. Who knows? One of us might create some new cliches which all can then say came from here and they blame Miss Snark for unleashing us upon the world, not that we could actually make it any worse. ;)

Okay, so I'm promoting the idea. You know the saying, promote early and often. :)

Mark said...

Cliches are what everyone says for fear of saying something original. It's easy, and sure sign of an unoriginal thinker. Agents and publishers don't want that, and neither does the reading public. It's a real deal killer.

delilah said...

Hey Sha'el - the pouting thing is really funny. I have two plants who are very competitive with one another. One, named after me, is Delilah the Hibiscus. When she is in bloom -- as she is right now -- her little sister, Lucy the Lemon tree, turns all her leaves upside in a fit of jealous rage. (She is such a silly little thing.) Because of her behavior, I have nicknamed her "The Pouty Princess." Perhaps you two are related.

Inkwolf said...

MichaelPH said...
I like the idea of inventing new catch phrases for my characters. Phrases which will become exclusive to my story. The reader feels he/she is part of the lexicon and therefore feels part of the story.


That can be overdone, though. I have often felt that I was going to hunt down George R. R. Martin and give him a good, swift kick if he used the words 'half a hundred' one more frickin' time. FIFTY!!! FIFTY!!! CAN'T YOUR BLASTED CHARACTERS COUNT TO FIFTY??! DO THEY REALLY HAVE TO GO TO A HUNDRED AND SUBTRACT, LIKE AN ARTILLERY MARKSMAN CLOSING IN ON A TARGET? (cough) Even as a child, I would get twitchy when Albert Payson Terhune trotted out one of his favorite stock phrases yet once more.

And giving a character their own catchphrases can work in children's books (I used to love how this old lady in one of my second-grade readers always said "Oh, my stars!") but I can't help dreading the idea of an actual novel where each person appears with their own sound bite.

Ooh! Word verifications = eoiks.

"Eoiks and awaaaay!"

Sha'el, Princess of Pixies said...

Dear Delilah,

Some Pixies may be related to Goats. The Irish and Greeks both have goat-pixies. But, we're not related to plants in anyway that I'm aware. One of the twins can talk to plants.

I learned my siter could talk to plants just before we left the Sierra Nevada forrest for the Home Forest. From Dragon Sword comes this:

"No, she surely isn't. Not near as pretty! I'll carry them in my pocket if that's ok Sha? And you two -- What are you bringing?" He looked first at Sha'ail who'd been standing with her hands behind her back. She held her hand out. In it was the most pathetic tiny pine cone I've ever seen. Papa raised his eyebrow.

"Sha'ail, there are much bigger and nicer pine cones where we're going," Momma said.

My sister looked so sad. "But I like this one. Please? Can I take it?"

"Why that one? We will find others." Papa was trying to be reassuring I think. Sometimes parents just do not understand.

"I talk to this one," Sha'ail said. She wouldn't look up, but kept her eyes on the pathetic thing in her hand.

Papa chuckled. "Does it talk back?" He picked her up and kissed her very tenderly.

"No Papa, but it listens to everything I say."

That's as close to being related to plants as pixies come.

delilah said...

Oh Sha'el, I would love it if you could meet Lucy, the Pouty Princess. I'm sure you two would get along famously, and with a pixie befriending her, perhaps she would burst into bloom and stop pouting.

Her littl sister smothered in Lemon blossoms would make Delilah quite jealous I'm sure.

Anonymous said...

SNAFU is not exactly a catchphrase, it's an acronym. Situation Normal: All Fucked Up. I think it has outgrown its status as a cliche, though, because I see it so seldom.

When the Gulf War ground campaign began, so many international writers were calling Saddam Hussein's troops "the elite Republican Guard" that our copy desk starting capitalizing it because we thought it was part of their name.

Pennyoz said...

You know this is exactly right!

Kathy said...

I'm probably late for this, but I generally try hard not to use cliches or catchphrases. At least the ones that I am aware of. I write fantasy so I liked to avoid anything too "earthy" or "modern." I have a tendency to try to make up my own.