There’s More to Clichés Than Meets the Eye
Clichés can kill your authority and should be avoided like the plague. But if you have used them, don’t worry: it’s no use crying over spilled milk! Think outside the box to avoid sounding like a broken record to get more bang for your buck because time, like money, doesn’t grow on trees.
Whether you’re for or against clichés, there’s a lot more than meets the eye. Before you light the torches against friendly figures of speech and idioms, let’s take a closer look.
That’s so cliché!
A cliché is a phrase, opinion, or even idea that is overused and betrays a lack of thought. Whatever strength it had when it was first issued has now lost its original meaning and effect on readers – it is now cliché.
Clichés are like an anesthetic for readers by often blocking any recognition that makes the reader connect and engage with the text. Why? Because clichés lack originality. They are predictable. They are often gross exaggerations of the truth. They add to the immense noise on the web. And they may ultimately leave your readers feeling completely numb toward your message.
Figures of speech, a word or phrase used in a nonliteral sense to add rhetorical force to a spoken or written passage, are often lumped into the category of clichés and that’s unfortunate.
Here are some examples of figures of speech that have often received the black-listed label of a cliché by critics:
- avoid like the plague
- falling in love
- back to the drawing board
- racking our brains
- broken record
- climbing the ladder of success
- don’t cry over spilled milk
- breaking the glass ceiling
- broke the bank
- light as a feather
- when it rains, it pours
- think outside the box
- money doesn’t grow on trees
- throw (someone) under the bus
- more bang for your buck
In moderation, each of the above figures of speech can be useful in great writing today. A well-placed figure of speech or idiom may help convey a particular thought or feeling as well as make an otherwise difficult topic more approachable. The key is to use the occasional figure of speech as a tool to convey your own original ideas; simply ensure your own original ideas shine above the figure of speech.
Here’s what’s really wrong with clichés …
Let’s open another can of worms: Cliché settings and ideas. Easily recognizable in movies – the heroes riding off into the sunset, rain falling on the face of the man whose love will never be returned, and even the line “Whatever you do, don’t look down” – clichés are an easy go to for writers, but they’re not memorable.
Think about that line, “Whatever you do, don’t look down.” The camera pans down as the person, not following the directions, looks down and there’s a pit of snakes or scorpions, perhaps a tank of sharks or piranhas, and maybe it’s an unfathomable drop that’s supposed to make you gasp in fear. You’ve seen it right? Can you name the movie in less than 30 seconds? If you can, good for you! However, if you’re like most people (i.e., the majority of your readers), you can’t name one movie in under 30 seconds that uses this line.
What this means is cliché settings and ideas aren’t limited to figures of speech. They are in movies and even article topics too. The dozens of “Get Rich Quick,” “Lose Belly Fat,” “Get Your Ex Back,” and “Home Based Business Guide to Financial Freedom” articles that provide the same vague tips over and over in fact are cliché. The settings of these articles may not be considered plagiarized because the words are not identical, nor are the ideas considered derivative because the information is technically original to that author, but these are just technicalities. An unoriginal idea no matter how you dress it is unoriginal – it’s cliché. After seeing the same clichés presented again and again in article after article, your reader won’t be able to attribute that idea to you or your organization even with more than 30 seconds to think on it.
How to avoid writing ANY cliché.
Be imaginative. Be creative. Be MEMORABLE. Write content that’s original, connects with readers, and innovates. We know that it’s easy to look at what’s currently taking the web by storm and it may seem appealing to replicate it in your own fashion, but you won’t be able to rise above the noise by creating or perpetuating a cliché. Stop writing average content and create remarkable content by taking initiative in your niche – have a vision and take a risk by pursuing it.
For more information on this topic, visit: Embrace the Truth: Your Brand Doesn’t Really Matter to Readers
Next, practice descriptive writing:
- Include vivid details that appeal to the readers’ senses
- Create meaningful analogies, similes, and metaphors
- Use precise language that use specific adjectives, exacting nouns, and strong action verbs
- Organize your writing to be conducive to the presentation of your original idea
For more information on this topic, visit: Descriptive Writing Examples and Methods to Engage Readers
Finally, when you find yourself using one too many figures of speech, be mindful that you can rewrite the sentence to remove verbiage and appease the cliché critics. For example:
- “in this day and age” becomes “today”
- “par for the course” becomes “normal” or “average”
- “light as a feather” becomes “delicate,” “light,” or “airy”
Rise above the mediocre noise on the Internet by using these tips to avoid clichés. Not only will your skills as an Expert Author improve, you’ll be able to create memorable content that connects with your readers who will engage with and share it.
For more information on authority killers, visit: 20 Embarrassing Authority Killers That Will Make Readers Flee En Masse
Between you, me, and the entire EzineArticles Blog community, we can create a master cliché list here and now. What annoying clichés do you frequently see? Share them in the comments section – we’d love to hear from you!
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