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November 5, 2005

Details and Clichés - AP Guide to News Writing, Ch 9 & 10

"The reader may have his own idea of what a Viking is, but you're out there in the wet to tell him what this particular Viking did on this particular ship in this particular storm, and if you can't give him specifics, you might as well go and be warm and dry and eat goat yogurt." (82)

This sentence just made me laugh, and it also made a good point: don't bother being out there working your butt off in what could possibly be very unfavorable conditions if you are going to report specifics and make your article worth my while to read.

This bit talks about how clichés are bad sometimes but not all the time:

"...it depends on whether clichés are used unthinkingly as reach-me-downs or chosen as the best means of saying what a writer has to say.'" (85)

I think this is true, sometimes clichés can be very useful...and I can see how in journalism they could certainly cut out a lot of words in a story to make something less confusing and to avoid long-winded explanations.

Posted by LorinSchumacher at November 5, 2005 12:49 AM

Comments

i agree, i constantly use cliches because they're convenient, are there any in particular that bother you? There are certain ones that should never be uttered.

Posted by: Erin at November 6, 2005 9:41 PM

I liked the part in the reading where it talked about some common ways that people try to avoid cliches. My favorite is, "To use the old cliche." The authors said that saying that is making an excuse for you cliche use. I hear that one all the time.

Posted by: Andy Lonigro at November 8, 2005 8:53 AM

You blog like a real blogger Lorin!

I too enjoyed the Viking example. If you're going to report on something, don't emulate every other story the reader has already read on the subject. Add something to their perception of the subject, instead of draw on overused imagery.

(PS: Thanks for all your comment on my blog.)

Posted by: David Denninger at November 8, 2005 1:36 PM

Erin, in general cliche's don't really bother me too much in coversation, but in writing they can definately get old. I know I have a tendancy to use them though and I shouldn't. If I think of something that is easily explained by a cliche I have trouble finding a new way to express my thoughts...all that is in my head is the saying. It is hard to get around that.

Andy, I always say "as the old saying goes..." when I use a cliche...it's terrible. I know I am guilty of exactly what the book was talking about. But, now that I am conscious of it, I can hopefully work to avoid it.

David...what exactly does a real blogger blog like? And you're welcome, thanks to you too for all your generous contributions.

Posted by: Lorin Schumacher at November 9, 2005 8:43 AM

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