The War on Cliché

And it is a war. And we do cry “Havoc!”

Ian McEwan, it turns out, has a tri­um­vir­ate of friends whom he entrusts with his nov­els before any­one else, with the poet Craig Raine scold­ing him whenev­er his writ­ing becomes too for­mu­laic (the pair will mark FLF, “flick­er­ing log fire”, in the mar­gins of each other’s work whenev­er it falls into cliche). McEwan won’t even let his friend and fel­low nov­el­ist Martin Amis near his books before com­ple­tion, pre­fer­ring to trust it to Raine, Oxford his­tor­i­an Timothy Garton Ash and philo­soph­er Galen Strawson.


I don’t feel estab­lished or skilled enough to give advice on the craft of writ­ing itself (bey­ond the usu­al of punc­tu­ation, and so on). But I do think good writers go through sev­er­al stages when they’re start­ing out.

Author: Ian Hocking

Writer and psychologist.

2 thoughts on “The War on Cliché”

  1. I spent most of the time when read­ing McEwan’s ‘Saturday’ scrawl­ing ARSE in the mar­gin next to his char­ac­ters’ names. ‘Annoying, ridicu­lously smug entit­ies.’

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