How These Common Clichés Can Destroy Your Writing

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June 23, 2016

Know Common Clichés to Help You Develop a More Sound Fiction Work

Clichés are a bane, especially in creative writing. One would consider them a lazy way to making your pieces work, and may sound especially jarring and out of place for readers. There’s no other way to put it: English clichés have little or no place in writing at all. Sometimes, you might not be even aware that you’ve included a cliché in your work, which is a common mistake committed by any authors out there.

Why You Should Avoid Clichés

Perhaps one prominent reason why you should avoid clichés is that they tend to annoy readers when overused, and cliché phrases may distract them from the message you’re trying to convey. Clichés are an easy method to get away with things, especially in writing.

1. A far cry

One of the most popular clichés, a “far cry,” is used to describe something that’s significantly different. For the most part, this cliché is a tad worn out. Writers should go for a simpler alternative.

2. Free as a bird

commonly used clichés

There is absolutely no need to compare something with an animal to get a point across. In prose, it may get in the way of your readers’ imagination. They’ll know what you mean, and making comparisons with animals just sound silly.

3. Sick as a dog

Here’s another comparison involving an animal. Not only is this one lazy, but it’s also offensive to dogs, implying that canines are mostly sick animals. Joking aside, the cliché doesn’t really make sense to begin with, and it’s been long played-out.

4. Bite the dust

We’ve all probably heard this multiple times, most likely on the radio, in a song popularized by the band, Queen. Everyone understands what the word “deceased” means. There’s no need to make it sound even more flowery or sophisticated.

5. Blow off steam

You may already have noticed by now that most clichés rely on comparisons. And by blowing off some steam, you’re saying you need to cool down on your anger. While it’s a fancy way of saying it, it’s still better to go for a simpler alternative.

Other common clichés:

  • Speak of the devil
  • You are what you eat
  • If only walls could talk
  • Add insult to injury
  • Eleventh hour
  • Plenty of fish in the sea
  • Think outside the box
  • The red carpet treatment
  • On the tip of my tongue
  • Beat around the bush

Always note that you’ll always have a tendency to avoid clichés in writing, especially when you’ve grown used to them. It does require practice to prevent yourself from including them in your work, but as time goes on, you’ll be able to polish your writing free from commonly used clichés that ruin your piece.