30 Days of Writing Tips – Day 7 – Avoid Clichés

by Anne Wayman

Easy as pie?

The admonition to freelance writers avoid clichés is probably a cliché in itself. Which doesn’t make it less true. Meryl K. Evans, the Content Maven has a delightful post called Dodging Tired Clichés and Phrases.

It’s fun and informative because she uses her experience of writing the article to demonstrate how easily tired phrases can sneak in and what you can do about them. It’s almost like watching over her shoulder as she writes.

Clichés, of course, develop because they are mostly true. That’s how it happens after all.

Deciding to work at avoiding the predictable is probably the only way a freelance writer will be able to let go of the cliche habit.

A helpful and horrifying website is the Cliché Site. There are (ahem) more clichés there than you can (ahem) shake the proverbial stick at. Every thing from the daily cliché to an alphabetical listing of the dreaded phrases.

How do you avoid clichés?

Share your favorite freelance writing tip?

30 Days of Writing Tips Archive

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Shelly Hazard May 13, 2011 at 9:16 am

Hi Anne,
Still loving this series! Just wondering what happened to Day 6? I feel like I’ve lost time….or maybe I’m just in the Twilight Zone now (oops, could that be considered a tired old phrase? Or am I just showing my age? ).
Thanks for the tips!
Shelly

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annew May 13, 2011 at 1:31 pm

Did I miss day 6? It’s been known to happen… I’ll check.

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annew May 14, 2011 at 9:10 am
Erin May 8, 2011 at 4:34 pm

I let the cliches into my first drafts and don’t worry about them. Then, when I revise I sit with them for a long time and really think about what I’m trying to say. I try to create several new images for each cliche, then I pick the best one for the story and move on to the next.
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Elizabeth West May 6, 2011 at 11:16 pm

I try to think of the thing as it actually is, but in a different way, like with the phrase “flat as a pancake.” I was writing about a character’s flat tire, but it really doesn’t look like a pancake. That’s only comparing it to one. Thinking about how the bottom looks made me come up with a tire that “spread out like hot tar on the gravel.” It may not be Hemingway, but I was much more pleased with that.

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Meryl K Evans May 4, 2011 at 10:45 am

Aw, shucks. Humbled, Anne. Thank you.
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annew May 4, 2011 at 12:31 pm

; now what do I say Meryl… good to see you – waving!

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