The Journal: A Little Fun Today

In today’s Journal

* Quotes of the Day
* A Little Fun Today
* Of Interest

Quotes of the Day

“The advocacy of the three-million-member organization for censorship is a chilling position for any group representing educators.” Jonathan Turley

“I’ve put in so many enigmas and puzzles that it will keep the professors busy for centuries arguing over what I meant, and that’s the only way of insuring one’s immortality.” James Joyce

A Little Fun Today

Again, the Kill Zone rises up to hand me a topic, but this time it isn’t something to argue against. This time, Garry Rodgers’ post is on the use of clichés.

Naturally, my initial reaction was a little overboard. I hate clichés and I despise their use. In the comment I left there, though, I restrained myself:

“Like any tool, if a cliché is used intentionally to create a certain effect in the reader, it’s fine. I don’t like them myself, but if I have a character who often uses clichés as a pattern of speaking, who am I to stop him?”

Which is consistent with my “It’s the characters’ story. They’re living it, so let them tell it” mantra.

But honestly, what I wanted to write is this:

Like any tool, if a cliché is used intentionally to create a certain effect in the reader, it’s fine. I don’t like them myself, but then I’m an old grouch who doesn’t like much of anything. I especially don’t like trite, cutsie little aphorisms like, “There is no I in team.” (I can almost hear the whiny voice.)

Me: “No, but there are three U’s in Shut the F*** Up.”

See what I mean?

Likewise, when I encounter meaningless greetings to which I’m expected to utter a boring, trite, in-kind response, I just say no. I might even go out of my way to create a unique, previously unspoken or rarely spoken work of art for the person. For example, someone says, “Hi, how are you?” and looks away, betraying his indifference.

Me: “Oh, well, hey, you know, thanks for asking.” Pause. “Actually I think my left nut fell off just a moment ago. Want to help me look for it?”

Oh, did I mention I’m sitting astride my bicycle and the front wheel is a little wobbly?

Or a fake, mouth-only smile accompanied by a half-yawn and, “You have a nice day, now.”

Me, if I’m in a great mood: “Don’t tell me what to do.”

But I really hate that one. So maybe I’ll go into stage-play mode. Maybe I’m in the local post office, talking with the clerk across the counter. There are two or three customers in line behind me.

Maybe upon hearing “You have a nice day, now,” I’ll glance at the woman’s name tag to be sure I don’t accidentally use her real name (the name tag reads Alice), drop to one knee, spread my arms wide, and emote:

“Melinda! Melinda! How can I have a nice day when my every waking moment is focused on finding you and bringing you home? Why did you ever leave me and our 18 children?”

(I stop, re-splay my arms and look around wildly. The customer immediately behind me shuffles backward a few steps.) “And a brothel, Melinda? Would you really rather labor here than come home to your loving husband and our goats and chickens and that one chupacabra and your children who so desperately need you?”

(One forearm slapped across my forehead, I rise and stagger toward the chrome and glass door.) “But fare thee well, Melinda my love, if toiling in this den of iniquity is thy wish. Fare thee well!” As I place my hand on the cross-bar, a pause. “Annnnd scene.”

I glance over my shoulder and grin. “You have a nice day too, Melinda.” Then I shove open the door and step out of the lobby of the post office.

‘Cause I really, really, REALLY don’t like clichés.

Talk with you again soon.

Of Interest

See “A Fun Ad” at Showing things you can do to publicize your book.

See “How is metal 3D printing transforming space travel?” at

See “Teaching Censorship…” at Bone-chilling stuff.

See “Firefights and a Massacre: Real-World Horror” at The opening two sentences: “Today, I’m featuring three podcasts…. Each session is a goldmine of information for crime fiction writers—dialog, slang, emotions, first-hand accountings of life or death situations, actual radio transmissions during ‘shots-fired’ incidents, and much, much more.”

See “Another Bryant Street Story Tonight” at To see what it takes.

See “When the Cows Come Home to Roost” at

Disclaimer: In this blog, I provide advice on writing fiction. I advocate a technique called Writing Into the Dark. To be crystal clear, WITD is not “the only way” to write, nor will I ever say it is. However, as I am the only writer who advocates WITD both publicly and regularly, I will continue to do so, among myriad other topics.

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