Cliches in writing are death to a book. If you want a publisher or agent to immediately reject your book, use cliches. But, why are these writing devices so terrible? The first problem of course is that everyone uses them. We’ve all heard and seen these phrases since we were old enough to read. Another problem is the fact that cliches tend to convey very little emotion. They are shallow representations of a feeling or action. Consider the following list:
1. Avoid it like the plague
2. Dead as a doornail
3. Take the tiger by the tail
4. Low hanging fruit
5. If only walls could talk
6. The pot calling the kettle black
7. Think outside the box
8. Thick as thieves
9. But at the end of the day
10. Plenty of fish in the sea
11. Every dog has its day
12. Like a kid in a candy store
What commonalities do you see? Why are these considered cliches? Have you ever used any of these while writing?
Cliches are deceptive. They make you think that it’s okay to use them here and there, but don’t listen to them. They’re little monsters who would like nothing more than for your book to fail. And don’t be deceived by thinking you can just take a cliche and change it a little to make it okay to use. For instance, modifying a cliche to say, “Like a dog in a boneyard” versus “Like a kid in a candy store” is really just recycling old cliches.
Be clever in your writing, but don’t let it go so far as to become cliche. Keep yourself clean of writing transgressions and you will find that you are creating new thoughts instead of rehashing old ones.