Shared Knowledge: Clichés
Writers need to have some idea of what their readers know. Alluding to something is pointless if the reader doesn’t get the allusion. In literature, the “literary canon” refers to important books with which supposedly every literate person should be familiar. Once upon a time (long, long ago, in a place far, far away) for English readers that was Shakespeare, the Bible, and certain “classics”. But now assumptions about what the average reader has previously read are risky.
However, one knowledge base writers can be confident that most of their readers do share is common clichés. Unfortunately it is problematic to allude to them, because they are by definition trite—and, besides, often blindingly stupid. Been thinking about some ‘truisms’ that so obviously are not true.