Easy as A, B, C . . . from BB
Found an interesting juxtaposition in a couple of articles in an old copy of The Writer (Oct.2011) today. Brandi Reissenweber, a writer and teacher of writing, answered a reader’s question (p. 7): how do I know when something is a cliché? The other by John K. Borchardt (p. 13), a freelance writer, was tips on getting quotes that “sparkle.”
Let me share a few of their ideas – this time in just one article:
Basically clichés are familiar, standard ways of saying something, like “tall, dark and handsome,” “worked like a dog,” or “her heart skipped a beat”. You know, the words everybody uses. They’ve been “arranged” in this order by someone else, probably a long time ago. You can get away with them in dialogue, since otherwise it would sound unreal, but keep them out of narration. One that drives me up a wall (and that’s a cliché itself) is “She sat bolt upright in bed.”
Now for tips on quotes:
- Find unique quotes. (You know, that are not clichés.)
- Plan interview questions: write them in an outline or logical order.
- Listen for potential follow‑up questions, even if they’re not in your planned “order”.
- Use the phone or meet your source face to face.
- Use a recorder: reword questions as necessary to clarify quotes as you go.
- Begin by putting your source at ease by showing you’ve done your homework.
- Leave your own opinions and biases out of the interview: learn from the source.
- Look for fresh expressions that reveal source’s personality or important points.
- Double check your quotes; phone/email sources to check clarity, accuracy.
That’s it: go out and get an interview ‑ and don’t include your source’s clichés, or any of your own!
See you next on Spellbinder Saturday!