If you’re new to writing, clichés can be hard to spot, even after the years I have spent studying literature and writing, I still find myself falling into the hole of the cliché. I always go back to revise my writing, but even after multiple readings and reworkings, sometimes it’s other people who catch my mistake. Why do you want to avoid clichés? The main reason: clichés make writing boring. There are a lot of clichés out there in many forms and because there are so many of them, it’s impossible to list them all. For now let’s go over why we should avoid them.
Metaphors and Similes
If you’re reading a phrase or a metaphor that you are very familiar with, it isn’t going to make an impression on you. Chances are if you describe someone’s sweater as being, snow-white, the reader isn’t going to really think about what the sweater looks like. The reader has heard this phrase so many times that he will just read right past it. These kind of phrases will end up ruining your descriptions. When people aren’t paying attention to what they are reading they aren’t seeing images in their head, and as we have discussed before (Details Details Details!), description is what separates the good writers from the bad. Avoiding Cliches in Writing has a list of some clichés that you can keep an eye out for.
Clichés in plot are a little harder to spot,
especially if you are the author, however, they are equally important to avoid. If you plot is too filled with them, your story is going to end up buried beneath all the other stories that are mediocre and filled with clichés. If you have a unique plot (as unique as it can be), you’re much more likely to have written something that more people are going to want to read. No guarantees, mind you. Some stories just don’t get recognition, but hopefully, if you are working to be the best author you can be, you’re going to write something people will want to read.
The best way to spot clichés in the plotline, is to make a plot summary of what you have written or, because sometimes it’s more accurate, ask someone you trust with your writing to do it for you. When you go through the summary, it should be easier to spot sections where you may have used a cliché. If your characters are doing something that you have read, or seen happen many times before, then you need to think of a new direction. Despite the author’s unfortunate prejudice against the Batman trilogy (I love Batman), Top 10 Storytelling Cliches Writers Need to Stop Using has a nice list of things that you should reconsider if you are using any of them in a story. Be sure to look at the comments to see some clichés that other readers have noticed and add some of your own.
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