Replace Cliches With Phrases That Move

You can ditch the cliche.

When I’m writing, especially when I’m having a difficult time getting my words to flow, I tend to fall back on cliches. They seem to fit my ideas so well. Cliches usually do fit in. Why? Because they’ve fit in to so many people’s writing for so long that they’ve been worked and overworked and even when they’ve fallen on the ground and have no more steam, we still use them.

So, it’s time to get creative. That’s why you love writing, isn’t it? Let’s look at how to replace cliches with phrases that move your text and your reader.

What is a cliche?

Replace cliches even in Scrabble. Image.

It has a place in your Scrabble game but not in your writing. [flickr. noodle93/ Creative Commons]

It’s hard to avoid a cliche if you aren’t exactly sure about what it is. The basic definition of a cliche is a word or phrase that has been overused in writing. Because these words and phrases have been used so much, cliches become ineffective and meaningless.

That may sound a bit harsh. But get this–many people, especially other writers, find cliches boring and generic. You definitely don’t want your writing to be boring. You definitely don’t want your writing to be generic.

You can think of cliches as the vampires of the writing world. Once in your writing, they suck the voice right out of it. And you’ve spent a lot of time working on that wonderful voice of yours.

Start weeding out cliches.

We’ve gone over a definition of what cliches are, but can you identify them in your writing? Examples never hurt, so let’s look at a few.

Examples of cliches include:

  • “Leave no stone unturned”
  • “At long last”
  • “Too little, too late”
  • “Never say never”
  • “Easy as pie”
  • “In the same boat”

Need a few more examples? Check out this long list of cliches to avoid in your writing.

Replace cliches and give your writing a lift.

Now that we can all identify cliches in our writing, how do we replace cliches with more exciting phrases and descriptions? It’s actually not so difficult of a task as you may think.

The Oxford Dictionaries Blog gives you 3 easy-to-follow steps to replace cliches in your writing.

1. Dig for the actual meaning.

Take a moment to think about what the cliche actually means. Most of the time it’s more effective to write out the meaning than the cliche. If you’re not sure the meaning behind the cliche (it’s not unheard of since cliches are used over and over again) try looking it up.

2. Keep it or cut it?

Sometimes we just throw in a few cliches here and there in our writing to make sentences longer. Before you spend time rewriting the cliche out of your sentence, think about if you actually need it. Is the cliche necessary to the meaning of the sentence, or is it just a filler?

3. Rewrite the sentence.

After you’ve thought about the meaning behind the cliche and if it’s necessary to the meaning of the sentence, it’s time to rewrite. You can replace cliches by writing out the meaning instead of the cliche. If you’re looking to be more creative, you can also replace cliches with original metaphors. You can’t make all cliches into metaphors, but when you can it’s a good way to put your voice into the writing.

You can easily ditch the cliches in your writing. It just takes a quick review, cliche identification and time spent so you can replace cliches with more exciting phrases.


[Featured image via flickr. noodle93/ Creative Commons]


Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: