First, I want to define cliche so we all have the same concept of the word as I continue with the post.
Cliches are defined as:
a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
If the definition isn’t enough to convince you to stay away from cliches, maybe the definition of creative writing on Wikipedia will further convince you:
Creative writing can technically be considered any writing of original composition. In this sense, creative writing is a more contemporary and process-oriented name for what has been traditionally called literature, including the variety of its genres.
It seems that creative writing is the embodiment of original work, so using cliches in your original work just really takes away from the originality, don’t you think?
I don’t have anything against cliches, really, I think they are funny to use in conversations or with friends, but if you want to be taken seriously as a writer, they are something to be avoided.
There’s a reason writers turn to cliches, I know. Sometimes an idea you want to express just fits so perfectly into a saying that’s already there, but that isn’t a good excuse to go down the cliche route. Instead, work on your originality and flex that creative skill in ridding yourself of all cliches within your writing. Here are a few examples of common cliches and what message they are meant to transmit to the reader, and, for fun, my idea for a better phrase that will hopefully be so awesome it is overused and they become cliches themselves someday.
Old Cliche: Time will tell.
Why it’s used: This can be used to foreshadow that events will get better in the future or to state that something mysterious will happen in the future.
My Future Cliche: Time is full of whispers we can’t hear until the future becomes the present.
Old Cliche: Without a care in the world.
Why it’s used: To show innocence, or someone’s lack of concern with current or past events.
My Future Cliche: He/She was like a hobo on a train car – he/she only cared about the next stop in life and never bothered to ponder on the future that came after.
Old Cliche: Opposites attract.
Why it’s used: This is a quick and dirty way to establish someone’s character is opposite of another person’s character yet the two opposites want to get into each other’s pants or get married or something.
My Future Cliche: Despite all logic that says they’d be terrible together, they still somehow were attracted enough to each other to hump regularly and smile over breakfast.
This is me just getting started. If you find yourself using cliches, doing a list like this, writing why you are using them, and coming up with your own unique way of expressing the same cliche idea in your own, unique words defeats your dependence on cliches and helps the creative process along.
So review your work and try to avoid cliches because, well, they are cliche for a reason and no one needs to spend time to reread ideas that are so engrained into society that no one finds surprise in the words any longer.
– Amanda Riggle
You can follow Amanda on Twitter @ThePandaBard, on Pinterest @ThePandaBard, or on Medium @ThePandaBard. You can also find her research on Academia.Edu at Cpp.Academia.Edu/MandaRiggle.