Writing Without Cliches: Top 6 Tips
by John Peterson
Writing is a craft that requires constant improvement, whether you are a beginner working to develop their first story or a seasoned author with many accomplishments under their belt.
Among other aspects, writing without cliches is one of the vital skills prospective essayists and novelists have to master before they start to consider publishing their works. If you’re struggling with this challenge and feel insecure about your texts, you can easily avoid cliches in writing in 6 simple and actionable steps.
But first, let’s talk about what cliches are, why you should steer away from them, and which ones are the most common (and, therefore, the ones you should be on the lookout for the most).
Why are cliches in writing so bad?
Cliché (past passive participle form of the French word clicher, referring to a stereotype) is a word or a phrase used so often in writing and speech that they’re no longer appealing or effective.
Just like anything that’s used often or by a lot of people becomes worn down with time, once colorful and interesting can phrases become stale or even off-putting when they are used too many times.
We are so accustomed to seeing and hearing cliches everywhere that we often fail to recognize them. This is why avoiding these words and phrases is so difficult and calls for special attention.
Here are only a few of the most wide-spread cliches to avoid:
- At the end of the day;
- In this day and age;
- Think outside the box;
- In any way, shape or form;
- In the nick of time;
- Make it or break it;
- Read between the lines.
For any self-respecting writer, learning how to omit or replace phrases such as these can be something their career depends on, so here’s how to respond to this challenge like a professional you strive to become.
Scan your texts for cliches often and thoroughly
Even if you firmly believe you never use cliches in writing, chances are you’ll be sorely disappointed once you start practicing this technique. These words and phrases can creep up to just about anyone, so don’t feel bad if you happen to find them in your works.
There’s no need to look for them right away, though. The first draft is a version of your text that’s supposed to be imperfect. Search for cliches once this version is ready for further improvements.
Make a list of cliches you often use and disown them
All writers are different in terms of writing styles, preferred topics, and phrases they often use. Therefore, you’re more likely to use some cliches than others, and those are your true Achilles’ heel (cliche intended).
Collect and write them all and keep this list near you whenever you’re working on a text to make sure you catch and remove cliches as soon as they appear.
Think about the meaning of the cliches you use
The best essay writing services UK professionals have a great tip for everyone looking to make their writing better. To replace cliches effectively, think about their meaning so you can convey the same point using your own words.
It will take some time to become skilled in this sort of work, but you’ll master this process for sure as long as you stick to it and don’t give in.
Avoid reading the works of authors who “suffer” from cliched speech
What if you’ve been using so many cliches because you’re subconsciously trying to be like your favorite authors who use them a lot? Having to give up your idols is never a pleasant experience, but if your skills and results suffer because of bad examples, you need to address this issue right away.
No matter how much you love an author, you must never cherish them more than the stories you live to tell.
Keep it short and on the point
Simplifying complex descriptions and phrases is an excellent way to fight away the cliches from your writing. Of course, don’t let this advice affect your writing so all your sentences become brief and all your descriptions are cut back.
Why say something in a phrase or a sentence if it can be said better in just a word or two? Don’t say “swept under the rug” when you can say “concealed” or “suppressed” (depending on the context). Instead of saying “this drives me up the wall”, try “this infuriates/outrages me”.
Work to reinvent stale cliches creatively
This might be the most challenging advice to follow, but give yourself some time to practice and you might come up with some interesting results. Give the old cliches a personal twist and you can bring them back to life.
This can be a really great exercise for any wordsmith looking to improve their skills and expand their vocabulary.
John Peterson is a journalist and essay writing service professional with 4 years of writing experience. He lives in London and works as a content contributor for the “Shop&buy” magazine. John is a professional mini-tennis player and the author of a novel “His heart”. You can find him on Facebook.