Monday, February 22, 2010

Modern . . . Adages

Today's the last day to enter the drawing for The Stones, so be sure to read the interview and sign up for the giveaway! I got a little off schedule last week, so we'll be having another giveaway tomorrow for Sandra Bricker's fabulous The Big 5-Oh! Sure to be a riot, so check it out!


Okay, it's 7:40 and I just realized I hadn't written my blog for today--you know, the one I usually schedule to post at 6. I've been a mite distracted, you see, with getting a proposal ready to send to an editor who requested it. And since said proposal is for a historical set in 1784, I've got absolutely nothing modern on my mind. So naturally I'm going to cheat and apply something old to my Modern Monday. =)

In researching how people talked back in that particular day, yesterday I picked up an essay by Ben Franklin. The whole premise is something like, "So authors don't respect me, but you know what? They're stupid. Do you snooty writers have any idea how often the common folks quote my Poor Richard's Almanac? Well let me tell you a story." And he goes on to write out this speech an old dude gives that is comprised almost entirely of Poor Richard quotes.

Which made me realize that 90% of American idioms and adages and cliches come to us from Ben Franklin. Seriously. "Early to bed, early to rise, makes a man healthy and wealthy and wise." Ben Franklin. "Three may keep a secret if two of them be dead." Ben Franklin. "God helps them that help themselves." Ben Franklin.

I could go on, but suffice it to say it got me thinking about things that today we consider cliche. How often do we stop to consider that once they were new--even revolutionary? It can get tricky when writing a historical. I can write something that would be a startling turn of phrase to my characters, but my diligent critters will flag it as cliche.

But I'm talking modern. Right. (Grin.) I also ran into this a lot in the book now dubbed Love Me Silly. One of my character's quirks is that she is very, er, talkative. And talkative people say so much that obviously cliches sneak in. But I made an effort to make the adages, idioms, and cliches uniquely her own. One example, from when she deliberately makes the hero jealous with tales of another guy:

Seeing him so green tickled her so pink that . . .

Yes, "tickled pink" is cliche. But juxtaposed with the turning green thing, which is also cliche, is fun and fresh and in keeping with my character's voice.

Ben Franklin got his acclaim because he took sentiments everyone knew and arranged them in clever phrases, catchy rhymes, and punchy deliveries. That, I think, is what all we authors must do if we want people to remember our words. There are no new ideas out there, so we're told. But we can tell about the old ones in new ways.


In wonderful, random news, A Stray Drop of Blood has been voted in as the May selection for ACFW's book club. Woo hoo! This book club is a Yahoo! group that can be joined by anyone, so if you're interested in reading the novel and then chatting about it with a collection of other readers, sign up at The first half of May will be when people have time to read it, and the second half it'll be discussed. Then I'll be having a live chat on June 7. Should be fun!


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