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Sunday, November 18, 2018

Did you know . . . ?

cj Sez: In the Did You Know department: Did you know that the first official Thanksgiving Day occurred in 1789?

And since we won’t be together on the holiday . . .

   Once I spot a cliché in a book, it seems to multiply like rabbits. Clichés are taboo things that writers are advised to avoid like the plague, but perhaps there are uses for them. In case you’ve forgotten or regularly dismiss their value, the following is excerpted from a 2015 Lyrical Pens post.

   Caveat:  A cliché is, by definition, a trite and overused expression ... a figure of speech that has become tiresome and uninteresting.

   Several experts advise against the use of any clichés in the narrative. Author and editor Sol Stein is one of those and has this advice: “Cut every cliché you come across. Say it new and say it straight” (Stein on Writing, 1995).      IMO, that’s not necessarily an iron-clad rule. I believe there are instances where an author might find a cliché useful.

   I think we can agree that novels need a theme, a premise on which to hang the action and plot points. An overall theme continues as a thread through the novel. It lets a writer connect the dots of subplots to the main plot. One way to get a handle on finding your theme/premise might be to describe your novel in one sentence, as with a cliché. The neat thing is once you’ve discovered that one true sentence, you can polish it into a marketing blurb.

   If you’d like one of your characters to use clichés, I say, okay. Use them, but judiciously and in only that character’s dialogue. Remember, though, even phrases voiced new and straight as Stein advises will become distracting clichés when used too often, but time-worn examples can be good fodder for a theme. Think about it.

   Consider this theme/premise/cliché for a romance story: “Love will find a way.” Then every time you put an obstacle in a character’s path on the way to happily ever after, that obstacle can be overcome with some kind of act of love . . . even self-love (conceit, egotism) is fair game. 

   In the premise/cliché, “All’s fair in love and war,” the character is free to do whatever s/he can in order to capture the heart of a lover

   For a love story, that beautiful, angst-filled drama which doesn’t always end happily ever after, a perfect cliché might be, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” 

   Or this tired, old saw for a YA or memoir: “A coming of age story.” That keeps the threads of the story tied to some agonizing affliction and growth of young people over a longer time span. 

   Find your cliché and tape it to your desk. It’ll keep you focused on the theme of your story, despite all those wonderful obstacles you throw in the way of the protagonist.

   If you have a different way of coming up with themes/premises, let me know how you do it. I love, love, love learning new methodologies. (This post is so full of clichés it's hard to read without grimacing.) 

Books are always great suggestions for Christmas gifts. I have stories in several anthologies with Christmas as the theme. Here are two to put on your shopping list. (Click on the name or cover to buy it now)

Hometown Heroes, a Christmas Anthology. It’s a dual purpose book: Entertaining contemporary romance stories for you and/or gifts, and the proceeds to benefit the Cajun Navy. My story is titled “Hobbes House Noel.”  …
This would be the year Merrill Cowper learns that the best Christmas gifts don’t always arrive wrapped in pretty paper and tied with a bow. Sometimes they don’t even fit under the Christmas tree.

The book has 70 stories written by adults recounting their extraordinary childhood Christmas memories. My story, written under my maiden name of Marilyn Olsein, is titled “Dancing with Daddy,” and relates how six-year-old me reconnected with my Swedish father after a major upheaval in our lives.

The anthology is still available on Kindle.  

That’s it for this post. You-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

A few more Christmas gift ideas:
Choosing Carter
Deadly Star
The Posse, a Western anthology
Pieces, a Mobile Writers Guild Anthology

GIVEAWAY CHALLENGE withdrawn.  I haven’t had a single taker. If you have any ideas about how to generate interest, let me know.  

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