Wednesday, July 27, 2011

3 Tips to Avoid Cliche

We all know cliche is our enemy. It dulls our voice and makes us seem amateurish. But what are the specific tools we can use to fight it? Here are three I've come up with:

1-No Stealing. Never use a phrase or metaphor that you've seen or heard somewhere before. That keeps you from being genuine. Get at the heart of the metaphor and put it in a way that's truthful to you. Get specific. Details, details details, and ones from YOU and not anyone else.

2-Be Careful with "Dead" Words. Cliche goes beyond phrases and metaphors. There are single words that are used so often that they lose any real meaning. Words like smile, sigh, tear, laugh, beautiful. In fact, making a list is a good idea. These words aren't necessarily forbidden, they should just be used cautiously, and put in a context that will give back some real meaning to the word. What other "dead" words can you think of?

3-Be Observant. To really describe a faucet dripping, watch one drip. Other writers have their own way of describing a thing, but figure out your own way. See and smell and touch and hear for yourself, and pay attention. Then you have real life experience, and an understanding beyond the words someone else used to describe something.

What do you think? What else can we do to avoid cliche?

Sarah Allen

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