A Cliché is Worth a Thousand Words

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Diagrams and illustrations make instruction manuals easier to follow.

Gestures can make speech more easily understood.

Metaphors convey ideas it would take paragraphs of words to match.

Shorthand communication. If there’s a quick and easy way to get the picture, feelings, from my mind to yours, it’s my job, even obligation, as a writer, to use the most effective method.

Clichés are shorthand, just as images are.

And both require judicious use.

the bus you just missed

When you see an advertisement for a corporate business with the default beautiful people in expensive clothes delightedly pointing at computer screens full of things we both know they don’t understand, it’s boring, wasteful, offensive.

An image of a real person, say, a bearded guy in a flannel shirt, using some advanced program, and he’s the one telling us that he loves working at CompuBlarg because they respect his expertise, not his sartorial skills — well, that guy’s word carries more weight. He looks and sounds real.

If you say the bad guy ran like the wind, you bore us. Tell us he was moving like the crosstown bus you just missed, or the kid who grabbed the last cupcake, and you have an opportunity to invest emotion in a form which is cliché, using words which are not.

Leave a Reply