At the end of the day, many of us love a good cliché. When your back is against the wall, a well chosen cliché can help you convince someone to see the light (or so you think). The secrets of life may be hidden behind the word cliché; however, clichés certainly don’t help you raise the bar when it comes to writing.
The Yahoo! Style Guide defines clichés as “any word or phrase that has become overused and strikes the reader as stale, hackneyed, annoying, or predictable.” Think of clichés as low-hanging fruit. It’s easy as pie to tell someone to think outside the box, but that wake-up call will likely fall on deaf ears. That’s why it’s icing on the cake when you make the call to keep clichés out of your writing. Say what you actually mean.
So how do you step up to the plate and get the the ball rolling? Here’s how to get with the program and call it a day with clichés.
Bite the bullet and simply delete the cliché.
Before: He needs to get with the program and start waking up earlier.
After: He needs to wake up earlier.
Substitute cliché phrases with simple words to make a long story short.
Before: We decided to call it a day after knocking the ball out of the park and taking things to the next level with our presentation.
After: We left after delivering our important presentation.
Come full circle with actual information instead of empty descriptors.
Before: Our meeting lasted an eternity.
After: We were in our work meeting for several hours.
Push the envelope by reinventing a cliché to suit your needs.
Before: She wasn’t out of the woods quite yet, as she was still stuck between a rock and hard place trying to find a bridesmaid dress that would please her friend. Being a maid of honor was a real baptism of fire.
After: She wasn’t out of the suffocating dressing room quite yet, as she was still stuck between a camo green chiffon wrap dress and a hot pink, ruffly gown trying to find a bridesmaid dress that would please her friend. Being a maid of honor was a real baptism of tulle and satin.
When all is said and done, follow the path of least resistance and craft your writing carefully so that you can avoid clichés like the plague. You don’t have to bend over backward to write with more concision when giving 110 percent to your writing. After all, concise writing is the new black.