Monday, August 3, 2009

Cliches for Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

We've been told to avoid cliches like...well, the plague.

Sometimes that can be difficult. After all, they are cliches for a reason - they give the image you want to portray. But not the tired feeling that may come with it.

I really wanted to use "like a hot knife through butter".
It became "like an Olympic diver piercing through water".

I'm still not completely satisfied and it will likely change before the edits are finished...but you can't say it is a cliche. Or at least not one I've heard of.

What cliches have you caught yourself trying to use. And what have you changed it to instead?


Kimberly said...

I know we shouldn't use cliches as writers, but they can be so much fun to play with! I've written a couple of posts on my blog that are purposefully full of cliches and it's interesting to see how they affect the mood of the writing when used all together. Cliches also cause writer block for me sometimes when I am trying hard to think of a non-cliche phrase and then I get stuck thinking of all the cliche phrases I know!

Cindy said...

I can't think of any cliche's I've used right of hand but I know I've used them. Sometimes it takes someone else pointing it out for me to realize I've used one.

Amy Allgeyer Cook said...

I write humor and have used cliches where the characters mix up the metaphors and get the cliches all wrong.

Sometimes though, cliches can help. They can lend a character stronger voice (an old aunt who constantly quotes proverbs), authenticate setting (think of all the wacky southern sayings), develop character, etc.

Like anything else, they have their place, but all things in moderation. The Devil is in the details, after all. ;)

Stephanie said...

I run into this too....such a challenge to try and come up with something that hasn't already been 'beat like a dead horse.' LOL! I wrote my second novel based on cliches...all romance/chick lit cliches all started happening to my the end though....agents and publishers couldn't get past the first few chapters (after that, I swear, there were hardly any cliches...but how my character dealt with them and became not so cliche anymore!! LOL!) I revamped the story and I'm now in the editing process with my publisher!

Jody Hedlund said...

I've used some cliches I didn't know were cliches and my editor, thankfully, was able to point it out. It's so hard to steer away from over-used expressions (like heart-pounding) and find fresh ways to express something so basic!

Tess said...

I do what it looks like you do...I try to come up with a new twist on the cliche. Like, one time I was trying to say that a character had a laundry list of chores to do, but I changed it to a chore list long as the road to Damascus.

not earth shattering, but not really cliche either.

Danyelle said...


I think cliches definitely have their place. Sometimes my hearts pound or my stomaches have butterflies in them. I like doing what you suggest, taking something often used, sprucing it up, and making it new. Those are some of the funnest to create, and to come across. :D

Karen Amanda Hooper said...

I went through and cut most of my cliches. Maybe later, after I'm published I'll try to sneak some in here and there. :)

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

joyce - please give me your age so i can use your quote in he article... you can send it to charactertherapist (at) hotmail (dot) com. thanks!