A Conversation for Writing Right with Dmitri: Atmosphere

Avoiding cliche

Post 1

Minorvogonpoet

I've found one of the problems writing in the 21st century is the avoidance of cliche.
So if you write now 'It was a dark and stormy night when the traveller set out across the moor.The wind howled around a rocky tor and every other living creature had gone to ground' people will say 'Oh, how many times have I read a description like this?'
I'm not sure how you deal with this, except to put in some distinctive details. So 'The wind blew so strongly over a rocky tor that the red Post Office van parked at its foot seemed to be shaking.'


Avoiding cliche

Post 2

Dmitri Gheorgheni - Post Editor

How true! Once the conventions of any genre are established, it gets harder to do. Kind of like sport, I think...

I had what I thought was a clever reply to you, but the computer ate it. smiley - laugh

But I think I was going to mention that some really popular writers were popular precisely because they had found clever workarounds for this sort of problem. I'm thinking about the way Douglas Adams described Vogon ships hanging in the sky 'the way bricks don't', and Terry Pratchett's frequent avoidance of simile by being hilariously literal.

I think you can view the atmosphere issue in different ways: pare down, scale up, look at it sideways. But you're right: it's work, darn it. And dang those old writers for setting the bar so high. smiley - winkeye


Key: Complain about this post

More Conversations for Writing Right with Dmitri: Atmosphere

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more