Writing Tip – Lose the Cliché – They’re Dull As Dirt

The definition, according to Dictionary.com, of cliche is :

a trite, stereotyped expression; a sentence or phrase, usually expressing a popular or common thought or idea, that has lost originality, ingenuity, and impact by long overuse, as sadder but wiser, or strong as an ox.

Based on reading that definition above why would you, as a writer, ever want to use one?  We are all guilty of it, me included, but I must tell you it hurts your credibility as a writer.   When you are describing a scene or a character you MUST avoid cliches. This applies to dialogue as well. You’re a writer and painting scenes with words is what you do, so why would you want to use an old trite worn out phrase.  Come up with new comparisons and original thoughts for your manuscript.

When you are editing go back through your manuscript and look for cliches, and where you find them, STRIKE, STRIKE, STRIKE.  They will bore your reader and if you are trying to get published, shut down the agent or editor who is reviewing your submission.  They will think “This author is not original.”

Is there ever a time to use a cliche?  I would say Very Rarely and do so with caution.  The only time I would even recommend using one is in dialogue and only if it pertains to the way that particular character might speak.  Say they have a bad habit of using cliches a part of their personality as a character and you want to make your point through dialogue.  Then and only then would I use one.

Let’s have some fun by naming our favorite cliches so our readers can get an idea of what we mean.

Old as Methuselah

Strong as a horse

Stubborn as a mule

List the cliche that gets on your nerves the most!

About Kelly Abell

I am a writer, blogger, and graphic artist. My aim for you is to utilize this blog to help you improve your writing skills, and to educate you on the publishing business. If you need help with writing, want to self-publish a book and need advice, or just want to kick a story idea around to see what works best, that's what I'm here for. As I gain knowledge from editors and publishers, I will share that knowledge with you. As writers we should always strive to improve our craft and grow. A day should not pass where you haven't learned or tried something new with your writing. Many thanks to my Night Owl Friend, Lea Ellen Borg for editing my posts! Best to you and all your characters and stories. Write on, my friends...Write on.
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