Ahhh the cliché. We hear them every day and are probably guilty of letting a few loose as well. But as a writer, and recent university graduate, I have learnt that clichés are about as popular and controversial as pineapple on pizza. They drive me nuts because they tell me that the writer is being as lazy as a big busted woman taking her bra off at the end of the day. Occasionally, a well-formed cliché may fit, but these instances are few and far between (and yes that phrase is cliché too). So, how do we know when to use one and when to get creative?
The short answer is always to get creative. But sometimes, you can’t. There may be various reasons for the use of a cliche, like time constraints or the style of writing. A great example of this is in sports reporting. Our editor at Netball Scoop has been urging all we writers to avoid cliches. Some such phrases include the likes of ‘at the other end of the court’ or ‘(*name) started the game with blistering speed’. I was guilty of writing those sentences in the early part of the season. But, when I began my journey with Netball Scoop, I had no experience and just assumed that these type of phrases came with the territory. It was only after a long and hilarious discussion between the writers and our editor that it was made clear that sentences like ‘'if Aiken shoots any more bricks she will be able to build a house’ are preferred over ‘she wasn’t afraid to go to post’. And, honestly, which would you prefer to read?
Another reason that cliches are so taboo in writing is that they deprive the reader of vivid detail. Take the Aiken comparison above: which one gives a clearer image of what happened on the court? A well thought-out, descriptive sentence will be more convincing, interesting and entertaining for the reader. And if you have the forum to write in such a way (as I do with Netball Scoop) then why not give it a go?
So, how can you avoid using cliches in your writing? The easiest way is to think about the scenario and draw comparisons. Think of what the phrase means and then think of a situation which would draw the same comparison. For example instead of saying ‘that’s the tip of the iceberg’ you could say ‘that’s the scout for the army’. Writer’s Digest also has some great tips on ways you can avoid sensationalism and cliches.
Becoming creative with your writing takes practice, and I doubt that any writer can honestly say that they have never given in to the easier route of cliches. But the best piece of advice I can give you is to think of your reader. What would they rather read? And what will keep them coming back to your writing? Coming up with original content may be hard and about as enjoyable as clearing the leftovers from the kitchen sink, but it is something which has to be done.
For more writing tips please see some of my other blogs.
To see how I can create original content for your business, please do not hesitate to contact me.