Throughout my writing “career” (I have to put career in quotes because I feel that career is a term used to describe something a person does to pay the bills and so far my writing isn’t there yet) I have learned many rules along the way. The biggest rule I have discovered is to avoid cliches, a rule I break frequently.
For a while, I never considered what a cliche was or how it was impacting my writing. I just assumed that if I put, “He froze like a statue…” the reader would read that and instantly appreciate my simile, and respect me for writing it. Not until later did I discover what it meant to write cliches. Essentially it’s a cop out. A cheap way of writing. What I was doing was taking something that had already been said a million times before and claiming the power of that statement as my own. I didn’t come up with “Froze like a statue…” I only heard it or read it somewhere (probably at several hundred times throughout my life) and used it to my benefit, without even thinking about it.
Even later, when I learned more about cliches and how to avoid them, I still would write terms and descriptions that I wouldn’t recognize as cliches until it was pointed out for me. And as a writer, having someone point out something you’ve written as cliche is one of the worst feelings in the world. It shows unoriginality and laziness, two words that should never be used to describe a writer.
Today I have a much better grasp on cliches but that doesn’t mean I’m free from them. I try to be as original as possible, to create a line that’s never been said or a description with such impeccable detail that the reader can’t help but read the sentence again. But I still find myself staring at a beautiful woman across the street and thinking, “Damn, she is drop dead gorgeous.” I could think of why. I could think of her subtle stare at everything and nothing, her magnificent feminine figure, her apple red lips just slightly parted as if she’s about to speak but never does, her eyes as they gaze at you in a judgmental way as if to say “I’ve heard it all before but give me your best shot anyway.” I could say all of those things, but at the end of the day (cliche) I think that she is drop dead gorgeous and nothing more.
Creative writing is more than words forming sentences forming paragraphs forming pages. It’s about forming stories. It’s about creating a scene with such impeccable detail that the reader falls into it no matter where they physically are. And in order to that, you have to give them something they’ve never read before. That’s your job as a writer. To describe what about the woman is drop dead gorgeous and let the reader come to the conclusion that she is by themselves.
He stood frozen like a statue.
His chest rose and fell slightly with each deeply inhaled breath as he watched her walk away. His arms were dead weight by his side, unable to move despite the wretched feeling of wanting to grab her and bring her close. The farther she walked away, the smaller her image became, the more he wanted to grab her and bring her back, but the more impossible it was. He stood there in that same spot and watched her as her image eventually disappeared into the distance, and then for even longer after that.