I recently got a SPAM on facebook that made me laugh so hard that I thought I would share it with you . . . as a brilliant example of how NOT to use clichés in a romantic novel. I put the original text in inverted commas (I didn't correct his mistakes) and my thoughts in between in brackets. Imagine he's trying to write a novel, and I'm the reader he tries to woo . . . because that's what we do, right? By the way, if you think someone might be hurt by this acerbic analysis, don't worry. I changed the name, and I'm certain that someone fixed this letter with nothing good in mind and is now laughing over the replies . . . if he got some, which I don't hope.
"Hey My Dear..." (do I know you?)
"How are You doing today?How is your family?" (Who ARE you?)
"I Hope everyone are doing great," (are we a bit confused with grammar and can we get down to facts now?)
"I got your profile interested and thought it's necessary for me to express myself this way.. "(huh?)
Okay, this was the introduction. What do we learn? Nothing. Is this interesting? No. Does he avoid commonplaces? Not at all. Assuming the reader has come this far and has not thrown the letter with disgust to the side, we now continue.
"Am Gerry Brown." (aha, we're finally getting somewhere)
"Am a single dad ..... "(oh, no, it's one of these letters)
"seeking for a God fearing woman to be with" (he must have mistaken me with someone else)
"and spend my time with always.." (sure)
"I want to start up my life again and be a happy man.." (how nice for you)
"I need that so much.. (but you don't know what I need)
Next mistake: He assumes that every woman has a soft corner in her heart for a single Dad. He plays all the clichés (God fearing woman, happy life). Lesson learned: Learn who you're writing for and make sure you know what they like.
"I'm single dad" (yes, you said so already)
"with 7 years old girl,she is all i have and i love her so much... (sob)
"I am very honest, caring and easy going,sincere... (you didn't mention humble)
"I love to Travel,mostly Paris,Asian,NY," (you forgot the moon)
"also where i can see new things," (well, that goes without saying, doesn't it?)
"I Love reading,camping,golf,fishing too," (ah, I can tell, the lonesome wolf kind of guy)
"i always love to go to beach when i have spare time.." (I see - I'm supposed to believe you live by the sea)
"i have great sence of humor that makes me make people around me to laugh... (so tell a joke)
"My friend knows me as funny person, because they said am free and I love to be happy..lol." (what's funny here?)
Self-introduction over. What have we learned? Throw together as many superficial things as you can and you end up with something totally unbelievable. You can say three times over that you're funny but if you fail to write a single witty thing, you will not convince any reader.
"Am also looking for a woman with a nice and kind heart that is ready to share things with her partner..." ("nice" and "kind" are words like a bog - the minute you lean on them, they disappear in mud, as they have no distinctive shape at all)
"A woman that is sincere open minded, easy going,and enjoy lots of fun... (am not open minded enough to enjoy SPAM)
"Though all offers are welcome my dear..lol. (what??)
"I'm looking for a partner who doesn't mind sharing everything" (you said so - yawn)
"I mean our life together,the good times and the bad times with me." (oh, wedding vows already)
"Someone to watch a good movie with..Lol. (what's funny?)
"Good company and conversation:essential." (so essential that we start to shorten sentences now)
"good looks are a bonus but am not interested in looks , because am interested in the kind of person you are" (you know nothing about me)
"and also If You are Young inside.... (aha, I'm supposed to believe age doesn't matter).
"Above all you must have a good sense of humor." (oh, I do, believe me, but I laugh at very different things)
At least there is some structure here, even if it is hard to find. We're talking about me here, about the woman he wants to find. It doesn't matter that he got it all wrong (unnecessarily, because on my website, there is plenty of information he missed, but then, I assume this letter went to a million addresses at the same time.) Mistake to avoid: Throw in too many general truths. If you make it superficial, and if you aren't specific, you'll end up with a bored reader for sure.
"Whilst I have my serious side,I tend to see the lighter and funnier side of life no matter what.." (that's the third time you say so)
"please note that you must laugh at all my jokes!because am happy when i see myself making people around me happy..." (fourth time)
"I consider myself a loving man very smart.. " (glad you're telling me, as I missed the intelligent part so far)
"I may be nothing more than a romantic idealist at heart;I cannot help it." (I'll be sick in a moment)
"But people either move me inside,deep in my soul,or they do not." (... not)
I write you because I felt it's necessary to us to express our feelings whenever we feel something great inside us... (I hope you'll stop expressing yourself eventually. This has been going on for ever).
"I look forward to having a new life with my partner that I can grow to enjoy and always be happy with.." (good luck to you, but don't do it near me)
"As silly as this sounds... (actually, this part wasn't the silliest)
"lol,well my Pleasure my dear."(uh? I seem to have missed something here).
Now this part is absolutely unnecessary, repeating only what he already said often enough. Avoid repitition. Don't underestimate your readers. Ever.
"Am an Engineer on log homes..." (yes, throw it in in the end, so I know you're well educated and probably earning tons, maybe even living in a log home, by the beach, if I remember correctly? This is the part where I burst out laughing because it felt so ridiculous).
"I will be expecting to hear from you soon my dear.." (yeah, sure)
"Have a lovely time and great moment with your family..." (you forgot to mention my husband)
"get back to me with My email OK" (nope)
The end is bare of any originality and only makes the reader happy that it's over. However, this intense ball of clichés, all muddled and thrown together, amused me no end because it shows what many people believe - that it's easy to write a romantic novel or a love letter. It's not. And I would love if we could write the anti-thesis to this letter, a truly fascinating, short, witty thing that will make the reader want to sit down and reply immediately.
So, here goes - my first sentence - will you continue?
"Dear Neighbor, I saw you at the supermarket this morning, your hair sticking up in all directions, reminding me of a hedgehog."