To Cliché or Not to Cliché?

That is the question…

As an Expert Author, sometimes it feels like it’s all been said before. “Nothing new under the sun,” as it were. But it’s crucial to use your unique writer’s voice in order to get your specific point across. So consider these points before deciding whether or not to pepper your articles with clichés.

To Cliché:

  • Using a cliché occasionally can be an effective tool to engage a reader, particularly if it’s used ironically or comically.
  • You can add to a cliché to make it interesting – or humorous – to your reader: “He was trying to avoid the 800lb gorilla in the room… when it sat on him.”
  • If using a cliché is the best way you have to express your thought, then try and rebuild it in your own way. For example, instead of saying, “Get your foot in the door,” a commonly-used business cliché, try something like, “Getting your business started can be tough, but once you start opening doors, don’t be shy about wedging that first foot in…”

Not to Cliché:

  • Ask any English teacher – or newspaper editor – whether or not you should use a cliché to start off an article and you will get a resounding “NO!” in reply.
  • Clichés all convey exactly what they want to the reader. Your reader will know exactly what you mean if you use one, but unfortunately, you are missing a valuable opportunity to engage your readers by giving them something flat that they already know.
  • Author and entrepreneur Michael Masterson writes:

    “When a prospective customer reads your copy, you want to get him excited about your product or service. You want to say something fresh and tantalizing to engage him. But when you use clichés, something else happens to your prospect. A little switch inside turns him off. He says to himself, ‘I know this already’ ‘I don’t need to give it any more attention.'”

(3) Ways to Avoid Clichés:

  1. Write how you would speak. If you are explaining a process to your reader, write it out as you would say it to a friend. Go through the steps and be as clear as possible.
  2. Be descriptive. Take the time to describe what you are thinking, you might find your own descriptions are much more interesting to read than any cliché would have been.
  3. Mix them up. On occasion, it is fun to twist a couple of clichés into one – in order to surprise your reader and make it fun to think about.

So, who’s to say what’s right or wrong? In my humble opinion, even if you have the best of intentions, your writing is where the rubber hits the road… and we all know the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

What’s the bottom line? I guess the writing’s on the wall. If you’re stuck like glue on clichés you’re barking up the wrong tree. Mark my words, it’ll come back to bite you at the end of the day if you put all your eggs in one basket.

It goes without saying that advice like this will usually cost you a pretty penny. Not from the staff at EzineArticles – for us it’s all in a day’s work. So get the lead out! Go write and submit your next set of original articles. At the end of the day, you’ll be glad you did. We guarantee your efforts will be paid back in spades.

Just a little food for thought.*

* For those of you who are counting, that’s 20 clichés in four paragraphs. Not bad, eh? ;-)

11 Comments »


1
Truby writes:

I just love the way you used Clichés at the end of this writing. I happen to just love them, but I guess it is wise to stay away from them for the most part. I want everybody to understand my articles. Can you dig where I’m coming from?

Truby

Comment provided July 23, 2009 at 9:55 AM

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2
terryweber writes:

Only lazy writers use those old overworked phrases. When I write I try to make what I say to my reader: fresh, sparkling, interesting, outlandish, informative, alive,energizing and focused. How do I do this? (1) I think before I write. (2) As I think I visualize one reader. (3) As I think I anticipate his/her reactions to what I say and how I’m going to say it. (4) I think about what I want my reader to do. Then I sit down and write and re-write until I get it exactly right.

Comment provided July 23, 2009 at 9:59 AM

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3
robert writes:

I don’t mind cliches so much, but I’m tired of hearing this in articles and in all forms of content in general…

You “gotta” have a list
The moneys in the list
All you need is a list

anyone else feel the same way?

Comment provided July 23, 2009 at 5:48 PM

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4
Nathaniel writes:

This is unrelated to the post but I was hoping someone who worked for or has influence on Ezine could attend to this. Why does it take for ever for an article to be revised? I had recently published a new article and it was doing great getting views and I decided to fix one little spelling mistake I caught and now it has been pending for nearly 5 days! Why does it take so long for someone to simply glance at the correction and make it live.

I understand the wait if this was a new article that had never been approved but this was already approved and given the green light… Now it takes 5 days for someone to simply look at my change in one spelling error? Give me a break.

Comment provided July 23, 2009 at 9:43 PM

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5
Halina writes:

I love it. For me it was interesting,very funny and I really enjoyed to read.

Comment provided July 24, 2009 at 12:19 AM

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6
Vibha Babbar writes:

Nice post. I agree to the point that an overdose of cliches makes the write-up boring. Though, if required, I don’t mind using few cliches in my write-up.

@Nathaniel- This often happens with EzineArticles. I have experienced this many-a-times. You now might have to write them a mail regarding the same. My articles were re-approved only when I notified them via email about the delay. Good Luck.

Comment provided July 24, 2009 at 3:46 AM

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7
Christopher M. Knight writes:

Nathaniel,

This week is an exceptionally unusual week due to the “dead links be gone” campaign that started a week ago today.

In a normal week we have 5,000 articles being edited by members and we’re able to re-review them same or next business day.

This week, we’ve had 5 TIMES that amount – or over 25,000 articles – that were edited by our members and had to be re-approved by our Editors.

In fact, we’re working 7 days/week this week and will have our Editors working overtime on Saturday and Sunday to work this backlog.

Writing us will not help as our Member Support team is currently deluged with thousands of extra emails as well.

This is temporary. Sorry…

Comment provided July 24, 2009 at 8:20 AM

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8
John Smith writes:

have experienced this many-a-times. You now might have to write them a mail regarding the same. My articles were re-approved only when I notified them via email about the delay.

Comment provided July 24, 2009 at 12:30 PM

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9
Christopher M. Knight writes:

John,

Our Member Support Team is not reviewing articles as they are too backed up to do both member responses and review articles out of the normal order they are received.

Writing in to us will not get your article reviewed faster this or next week.

As I’ve already said…Sorry… this isn’t normal for us.

Comment provided July 24, 2009 at 2:34 PM

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10
Lance Winslow writes:

That was a pretty cool post there, thanks.

Comment provided July 25, 2009 at 1:08 AM

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11
Tom McCarrick writes:

Well, at the end of the day, there’s no doubt about it but there’s two sides to every story, and every dog has his day.

Don’t you just love cliches! It goes without saying that it’s a foregone conclusion.

Tom

Comment provided July 29, 2009 at 8:17 PM

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