Cliches and References

 I’ve been listening to a LOT of audio books lately–drive time to Mesquite is 45 minutes with NO traffic–and seriously, when has there not been any traffic in the DFW metroplex?  Some of the curious things I’ve noticed have been the use of references and, cough, clichés.  Our wonderful WS Marilyn has often told me that clichés are that way for a reason. But don’t beat the reader, or in my case, the listener, to death with them.  😉  References are good to a point, and like boxer-shorts seldom seen. I don’t want the character to tell me to ‘think Terminator’ when there is no reason to. Why?

One benefit of the audio books is when the writing is good, I’m in heaven while dealing with hellish traffic. And I’ve been known to miss an exit to keep the story going.


6 thoughts on “Cliches and References

  1. That’s the hard part of being a writer–editing yourself. You want the reader to understand the reference–especially if it’s obscure or dated–but you don’t want to beat them over the head with it.

    When I judge contests (6-8 a year), I see far more of the later example where the auther ‘explains’ the reference. The biggest problem with this is that it stops the story and destroys the pacing mid-sentence. Why give the reader an excuse to put the book down? Words are our job, the key is to provide enough information AS a reference within the sentence.

    A few days ago, I tweeted an obscure reference. Only one person ‘liked’ the comment–considering I only have 10 followers, but Facebook tends to compile everyone’s tweets–this didn’t surprise me.

    Oh, the tweet?

    *Uh-oh . . . Skynet went online at 2011 on April 19, 2011. Humanity will be termina–*


    • Margaret–
      Guess I was absent that day on FB, but I’ll be back!

      Hard to believe we’ve passed that date.

      Spot on about stopping the story mid sentence.

      Hasta La Vista, Baby! (Named a race horse that!)

  2. Meg,

    I love me some audiobooks. I generally have one going in my ears whenever I’m doing something I don’t enjoy (housework, grocery shopping, exercise). I am a ‘long time listener’. The good ones keep you riveted. I don’t guess I’ve had one ‘take me out’ with a reference yet. Some of my favorite ones to listen to have ‘asides’ to the audience, like in the Lemony Snicket books when the author uses a big word for the child reader then says, “by this I mean…” I get a huge kick out of those references because they seldom actually define the word used.

    I guess I’ll be looking for a cliche that makes me stare at the device now. spw

  3. I’ve only done on audio book, INTENSITY by Dean Koontz. All I know, is at the end, I got from Mannford to my driveway without remembering how. And I have no idea how long I sat in my running car in the driveway while I finished the book. Way too easy for me to be dangerous while listening to audiobooks.

    • Now that’s scary, Jackie–
      But I’ve done the same. I was listening to The Shining while driving home at 1am from Oklahoma–Same bright moon lighting the pasture in real life and in the story. Fortunately, I made it home without the redrum.

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