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.