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  • ill-starred?
    by AlanH at 15:14 on 18 June 2014
    I use ill-starred (as in unlikely to succeed) in my opening para, not realising it is regarded as a cliche by certain authorities (Collins complete writing guide).
    Now, I know cliches are regarded as the lowest-of-the-low, but on a scale of 1 to 10 where 10 is such as 'accident waiting to happen' or 'eager beaver', how objectionable is 'ill-starred'?
    I think it's fine, tbh. What do others think? Would 'ill-starred' in the opening para consign my work to the heap of own-goal ill-starred novels?   
  • Re: ill-starred?
    by TassieDevil at 15:26 on 18 June 2014
    Never heard of it so if it's a cliche then it's a non clichéd cliche. In other words it's okey-dokey to use in my opinion. Don't even know what it means had it not been for your bracket explanation, so I would have to rely on context to decipher it. It cannot be that common.
    And I hate cliches.
    T'other Alan
    Edited by TassieDevil at 15:28:00 on 18 June 2014
  • Re: ill-starred?
    by Alex29 at 17:12 on 18 June 2014
    As a rather ordinary book buyer - as opposed to one who enjoys relaxing with a book to accademically critique it -  I just want to read a book and relax into another world - I care far more if I have to get up to look up a word or phrase so if the action and characters carry me along on one cliche or another? I don't give a minkeys! devil
    ill-starred? Fine - though the one that would get the book hurled into roaring flames of a handy blazing fire  is  'And reader I married him' but by then it is too late I have read it and that is more passe than cliche me thinks!
    I fancy making a list of the words this spell checker can't work out - cliche apparently is cloche though it guessed that minkeys meant monkeys - if I could have provided a peanut I would have!laugh
  • Re: ill-starred?
    by tatterdemalion at 22:24 on 18 June 2014
    I don't know that I find 'ill-starred' cliched, but I do find it mannered beyond belief. I would hope that any writer would only use it tongue-in-cheek.

    As for 'Reader, I married him', when used by Bronte it was a devastatingly effective declamatory statement and is justly famous because of it. Very recognisable, and of its day. Only a dolt would use it today, even if it wasn't recognisably the work of another writer.
  • Re: ill-starred?
    by Catkin at 22:36 on 18 June 2014
    I really like 'ill-starred'. I don't think it's a cliche. If anything, it's rather old-fashioned - but old-fashioned in a good way.

    Was it there in the version I read, Alan? Because if it was, then it sailed past me without any problem. I'd keep it if I were you - I think it's fine.
  • Re: ill-starred?
    by AlanH at 04:35 on 19 June 2014

    Was it there in the version I read, Alan?

    No, Catkin. I had a major edit shortly after your read-through. Obscurity was banished, cliche was invited in. indecision 

    but I do find it mannered beyond belief     

    Thanks for your opinion, Tatterdemalion. Exactly why I raised the thread.
    And because some find it unacceptable, especially right at the start, it's going.
    I know if I saw a cliche in an opening para, I would be seriously unimpressed.

    I need to sift through the list of cliches very carefully because there's every chance I'll find another - mild and used innocently maybe, but nevertheless a no-no.

    I just want to read a book and relax into another world  

    Yes, MC, It's easy to overlook this when we're being critical about our own work, and I suspect a lot of writers* wouldn't bat an eyelid at using a tired cliche, and most readers wouldn't care.
    * But they're self-pubbed on Amazon, raking in the dozens.   
  • Re: ill-starred?
    by Account Closed at 07:05 on 19 June 2014
    I understand why cliches are disliked. However, like Catkin, I don't see ill-starred as a cliche. Not that I know my cliches though.
  • Re: ill-starred?
    by EmmaD at 08:57 on 19 June 2014
    I think ill-starred has gone beyond being a cliché, if that makes sense.

    First is would have been a really fresh phrase (back somewhere around 1567, perhaps), then there would have been people rolling their eyes, (as today with whatever last year's clever phrase is which is now terribly clichéd), and now it's just a phrase. Particularly, perhaps, since we don't much use "ill" to mean "badly", nor "starred" to mean (mis)fortune, so the original components have moved beyond having their own mojo.

    What it is, is second-hand language, or received language as the poets call it. Which is fine - we all use existing phrases all the time. It's writing which only uses existing phrases (I've had journalists tell me that they're are positively taught to work that way, because existing phrases work very efficiently on the reader)  which can seem very flat and un-engaging, because that efficiency also precludes real emotional engagement. Journalism, and very run-of-the-mill commercial fiction, e.g.

    Plus, actually, before you refuse to use such existing phrases, you have to look at what you'd do insted. "ill-starred" has a particular meaning which other phrases don't quite catch, so why not?