Avoid Clichés Like The Plague

A writer who whites in clichés is as worn out as an old pair of jeans. As obvious as it seems, it’s an easy trap to fall into. The writer wants to write something understandable. In so doing, he will use a phrase or common reference that is threadbare.

Often the cliché is enjoined without the writer really being aware of what he has done. It is often not noticed until other people read it. As writers, we want those readers to be the people we share our drafts with as we edit. And often when it is pointed out, we writers laugh and admit Now I see it! If it were a snake, it would have bit me!


Clichés suffer from two great problems. The first is that they are terribly unoriginal. If your character is nervous, and the best you can do is compare him to a long-tailed cat in a room full of rockers, you need to work on your chops. Readers do not want to read what everyone around them says every day.

If your phraseology is as common as the cold, you readers will become bored quickly. A writer’s voice is seeded in uniqueness and originality. Clichés rip the rug out from underneath this concept. You may speak in clichés in your daily life (who doesn’t?), but you must not write with them. Your wonderful youness is hidden by the catch phrases that are as old as time.

Show Me

Another problem with clichés is that they are notorious tellers and horrible showers. Quite often our chinches take the form of a metaphor. He’s as smart as a whip or she’s growing like a weed. The issue is with metaphors in general, but applies here in that saying someone is as smart as a whip or growing like a weed really tells us nothing.

Show us through actions that a person is smart or growing physically. This keeps you from sounding stale, but also adds needful action to your stories. Your tales are made up of interesting people doing interesting things. Descriptions draw away from what readers what and leads boing people doing stale action, or nothing at all.

Keep a good group of editors around you to catch your chinches if any ever sneak past you. Clearly, you would rather have someone read it while the text is being perfected than when it out there for the world to see. Clichés are fine in common speech, but in writing, they should be avoided like – a terrible disease.


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