Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Getting Rid of Clichés

Editors and readers alike are looking for fresh new work with exciting word pictures. A cliché is defined as an expression that has been used so much that the original power has been drained from it.

Examples of Common Clichés

  • She was fat as a cat

  • He was dead as a doornail

  • The house had gone to wrack and ruin

  • The teacher had the eyes of a hawk

Use a Thesaurus
A thesaurus can be very useful if stuck on a word or expression. Look up the options and play around with substitutions. They may come over as nonsensical, hilarious or stupid but will undoubtedly stir up ideas. Here are a couple of examples using the clichés above.

  • She was as chubby as a cub

  • He was as deceased as an entranceway spike

  • The home had gone to debris and shambles

  • The instructor had the perceptiveness of a bird of prey

Think of Original Expressions
There are endless possibilities in the English language for creating new descriptions. The above clichés could be rephrased as follows:

  • Her skin stretched unevenly across bulges and rolls of fat

  • All signs of life had long since drained from his body

  • The house had collapsed on itself, a distorted shell of its former shape

  • The teacher searched the room with radar eyes

Look for the Unusual
A writer should always be looking for ideas and inspiration is everywhere. Carry a notebook and jot down ideas as they come. Even a ride on public transport or a walk on the beach can produce some different phrases. Consider these examples: The bus absorbed passengers at one stop and disgorged them at the next. The sand whipped her ankles like a thousand angry flea bites.

With a bit of effort, it is possible to transform writing styles by cutting out clichés. Make a decision to sift out all tired expressions and overdone phrases and search continually for new and fresh ideas.

Debbie Roome works as a freelance writer from her home in New Zealand. Visit her at Debbie Roome or read some of her work at Suite 101, Associated Content and Faithwriters.

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