Monday, October 24, 2011

Cliches 'R Us

My English 101 students have been working very hard this semester.  I was quite pleased when the latest round of peer reviews noted that nearly everyone wanted 'more illustrations' and 'more detailed illustrations.' 

We have been working particularly hard on 'showing.'  (In expository writing, of course, this is a harder lesson to digest than in fiction, since careful telling is most certainly required in key spots.)

Students have struggled, as is typical, with avoiding cliches.  We read George Orwell's "Politics and the English Language," which they did not appreciate, but which I loved even more than I did the first time I read it. 

Finally, I found this video to impress upon my students the mind-numbing effect of the cliche.

Of course we writers do not have the benefits of music, videos, or near-nakedness on which to hang our cliches in order to make them even modestly more effective. 

Since we are writing cause and effect essays this week, we also discussed this lyric as a cause and effect statement and decided that it was, in fact, impossible to support adequately.  "What Doesn't Kill Me May Possibly Make Me Stronger" may be more factually accurate, but it somehow lacks the same flair.

I am, of course, writing this on a sleepy Monday morning and hoping for the best from this week for us all! --Jeanne Marie


Carmela Martino said...

Thanks for sharing the link, JM. I never realized how many songs used that lyric. I think cliches are especially prevalent in song lyrics, perhaps because many cliches started out as a reflection of something true, and so they resonate with us. Happy Monday!

Esther Hershenhorn said...

I love this video, Jeanne Marie!
And, while it might teach a whole lot about AVOIDING CLICHES, it just happens to teach a whole lot about VOICE! :)