Monday, July 22, 2013

Shakespeare - Do we really have to avoid cliche plots?

We writers are constantly reminded to avoid cliches in our writing. When you read out your work at a writers circle our peers love being able to say 'its a bit of a cliche.'  With pink face we look at our writing and wonder how a tired old expression managed to sneak its way in. And these over used lines are so easy to fall back on.

all walks of life - give the devil his due - never a dull moment - hook, line, and sinker - nipped in the bud - bitter end - calm before the storm - in the nick of time

Last night I went to see an open air production of Midsummer Night's Dream in Petersfield.   It as set in the 1970s and, it really was a fabulous production. I'm so fond of the play, I like how it explores the nature of romantic love.   In the play, magic love juice causes characters to fall erratically in and out of love as they chase each other around the woods, where a Fairy Queen literally falls in love with a jackass.  Its conclusion?  The pursuit of love has the capacity to make us irrational and foolish. The cast had us in stitches - cliche by the way!

And then, lying on my picnic blanket, feeding the insects my blood, I mused. By literalizing the familiar cliché that "the course of true love never did run smooth," Shakespeare is  suggesting that love turns us all into madmen. I'm sure I'm not the only person who's cheek would flare red at the memories of what I have done in the past in the name of love.

It was a tired old cliche in Shakespeare's day. I wonder if his cast read it, sniffed and advised him not to use cliches in his work? Writers need to avoid these phrases because they quickly become over used. I say we need to think WHY they have become over used? Because they often succinctly describe something we all can identify with. 

Do we really have to avoid cliche plots?

Midsummer Night's Dream is showing until the 27th of July at Bedales School.

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