Trope or Cliché

Courtesy of

Who here knows what a trope is?

How about a cliché?

How about the difference between the two?

Did the last question leave you stumpped? Me too! So I went on a digital spelunking quest into the unknown. I also looked into other vintage sources like a dictonary or two, and do you want to know what I found out? Well… No one really knows, it’s kind of vague.

Ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is a trope? How do you pronounce it [troup]? Heck, I’ve been pronouncing it [troupy] because that’s how I learned it, the thing is, outside of literature university courses, you won’t hear many people speak it out loud, and if they do… case in point. It’s a little like genre, I honestly thought it was pronounced [genier] when I read it in articles until I realized genre was what I’d heard fancy people refer to as belonging to a style, or category = [jánre]
  2. What is a cliché?
  3. Which one is bigger? I ask this because it seems like cliché fits into the great encompassing shadow of the mighty trope. Trope, such a grand word, in the same category as genre, canon and the like. But, cliché just sounds right out bad.

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Snob Me Once

Image by Drew Coffman [CC BY 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons

Snob me once, shame on me… oh, who am I kidding, writers have no shame.

But I do.

Shame on me!

This has been many years in the making. I have not written much in give or take 3 years. I did not leave writing; I just found that after a rather tough patch in my life, I didn’t really feel like saying much. Or maybe I didn’t have anything important to say. I tried occasionally, but most of what I wrote fizzled. So, I tried another approach since just working at my writer’s block didn’t prove fruitful. I would let it sit, and sit and sit. Once in awhile I’d try again. After two years I thought I was never going to write again.

But I’m jumping the gun, before any of that happened, about 3 months into my writer’s block, I had tried getting on the saddle again. I always had a ‘cure’ for even most stubborn of blocks. Everything I tried brought up this inner voice, which would go something like: “I should take a writing course, this usually helps, especially the ones where you have writing prompts.” But I would respond to this voice: “writing prompts are for amateurs, real writers don’t need prompts, real writers write from…. from wherever it is they write from.” Eventually I ignored the voice and I started using prompts as usual. I just Googled prompts and came upon the Writer’s Digest prompts. And I loved them.

The prompts got me going, and I went and went and then it was just too much, and I staggered and slowed to a crawl, behind the Duracell bunny. They no longer worked, the writing lacked sparkle, it lacked that je ne sais quoi that all writers have when they read back their own words. The one readers also get when they pick up a book and read a couple of sentences and then buy the book. That was simply not there.

It was hard, because I thought the block was over, but it wasn’t. Certainly not in the way I had expected. It turns out when you actually have a writer’s block it isn’t that easy to climb out of the gaping blank page.

So, what happened?

Well, one day at a time, the block started to go away on its own.

Writing just is ­(and some days it is not), but the muses are still there, waiting and whispering, and I hear them calling.


CW-editor-SofiaSofia Borgstein is half Dutch and half Mexican, although she was born in Malawi.  She has been writing since she was 13 years old.  She has been published in magazines in Mexico and the Netherlands.  She currently lives in the Netherlands with her husband and two children, where she is working on several projects.



Weird Grammar: “Word Crimes” video

This song will appeal to anyone who has ever studied, worked or simply loves languages, especially English.

Weird Al Yankovic’s song “Word Crimes”


Have a lovely day!


Semicolon; where art thou?

The semicolon has an identity crisis, followed by a midlife crisis, and ending in a burnout; made redundant by the WWW. He is an ambiguous being, both the end or a continuation yet at the same time not quite being both or either (or was it aither?). The love child of a full stop and a comma. It is no wonder this strange little marking is the bane of many an existence. How the do you use it, why not use a comma or a full stop instead? And that is indeed what has happened: the semicolon has slowly,or quickly depending on whether you count time in internet years or normal non-connected years, started to disappear,even from polite society. Read More

The Ugly World of Dystopian YA: “Uglies” Series by Scott Westerfeld

There are many dystopian YA’s (Young Adult) that you can read before you reach the Ugly series. I’ve trekked through the worlds of “The Hunger Games” (before it became a movie), “Matched” and “Across the Universe” among others, these being the most well read. I could say that the “Uglies” series (‘Uglies’, ‘Pretties’, ‘Specials’ and ‘Extras’) is just another run of the mill YA dystopian series, almost formulaic, good for several evenings of mindless fun (at least that is what I thought until I reached the last book). Read More

Summer and Reading at the Beach

Summer has arrived, at least here in Holland it has and the forecast on the 19th of June was 35°C (95°F), the hottest day in recorded history, at least according to the news outlets, but who knows, it was going to be really warn.. It’s a special occasion in our rainy and windy country. So as soon as a bit of sun shines, thousands of people flock to the beech,

I once flew over Holland, and it looked much like the picture here. The coastline instead of its regular yellow sandiness was rather a nice pinkish mauve.

or sit on the ‘terrasjes’ – the outdoor tables of cafés. Read More

Cecile’s Writers Go Mini-Golfing

To take a break from editing the stories for the first edition of our magazine, Cecile, Samir, Vanessa and I went glow-in-the-dark-3D-mini-golfing, located near the beach. Yeah! And I have the photos to prove it.


A you can see from the picture below, I’m wearing a fabulous pair of 3D glasses, which combined with the glow-in-the-dark pinks, yellows and greens, made for a very psychedelic game.

Taking a break after the mini-golf adventure.
Taking a break after the mini-golf adventure.

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That Feeling You Get When You Know It’s Just Right.

How do you know when a sentence is correct or not? As any native speaker of any language will tell you: it’s correct because it feels right. Of course, if you’ve studied linguistics, you might reply with something a little more high brow. You might refer to the “correct” or “incorrectness” of the grammar/wording/syntax/pronunciation/etc.

Now, assuming that you aren’t a native speaker of English (for example) – but you’ve been speaking it for a long time, long enough to write creatively in it anyway – you might have that feeling of ‘rightness’. Here at Cecile’s Writers, we are for the most part ‘native’ speakers. However, discussion on the rightness or wrongness of a word or sentence construction can get heated. For example, Vanessa asked us if you travel ‘in’ or ‘on’ a plane (you can see the blog post that spurred this particular conversation), to which each of us responded yes, no and maybe. Ask a native speaker and they will probably tell you I travel ‘in’ a train or I will travel ‘on’ a train. Read More