In creative writing classes I was told to stay away from cliches. Cliches are not sound writing. They are shortcuts and often used in genre fiction, but not literary fiction.
In sociology class I was taught that cliches are helpful. Though they may be wrong some of the time, they help us make it through our day with more ease, less confusion. In this sense, maybe saying the child is “as a cute as button” is sweet and the mother feels good about the child and about the person admiring the child. In a group of parents, a mother might say, “my son is just Go Speed Racer,” Instantly, the parents get the meaning and laugh. These cliches, these idioms are helpful.
In writing however cliches make for poor writing, even in dialogue. When using a description, a metaphor if you will, I believe thought is a must. We all know of beautiful metaphors, descriptions when we read them. Many of us underline these promising to think about them further at another time. As I write this, I think I need to look through my books to give sound examples.
Roses have been used in poetry, in plays for a very long while. Is the rose itself a cliche? This I asked myself while smelling mine one evening at dusk.
I often walk around my yard in the evening before dinner, or after with a glass of wine in hand. Sometimes my daughter joins me, but this night she was at her dad’s. My son was inside playing a video game.
This rose bush I didn’t plant. It came with the house that I purchased over three years ago. I have planted four bushes — and in an area where deer live, this seems like it might be a fool’s game (yes, a cliche, a fool’s game — this is where my brain went.) The beauty stopped me. I smelled and am reminded of all the roses I have ever smelled, of all the beauty that is available. Yes. I snapped a picture though I believe photography takes away from the present, from the moment, of the beauty, of art.
Is a rose cliche? Is love? Is the sunset or sunrise? What would be cliche I guess is if I said her cheeks were like roses. What I want to say is that something isn’t like a rose, but that the rose is the something.