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The Cliché - Seven Things to Avoid in Your Writing

Updated on August 10, 2014

Because We Said So, That's Why

While one shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the use of clichés in writing may appear to be cute as a button, but could render a written work to be as useless as the tits on a boar and stupid as a rock. This could be important information to regard whether in writing or any other aspect of proper communication, particularly when one seeks communication that isn’t as sloppy as a soup sandwich.

Avoiding clichés is sound advice at all times, not just when the shit might hit the fan and one’s message is riding on a slippery slope about to go up a creek without a paddle. So keep in mind that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and avoid the use of clichés as if they’re akin to one bad apple spoiling the entire cart. The occasional and obscure cliché may go unnoticed, but readers have an elephant’s memory and quickly recognize when you’re pulling the wool over their eyes. Keeping your clichés as rare as a blue moon just might be the cat’s meow. In fact, it just might be Mission Critical!

But how do we avoid clichés in our daily speech, especially when these pesky things can be slicker than snot on a doorknob and are known by most people like the backs of their hands. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words, so it seems reasonable to refer to a cliché as a written picture. The right cliché can knock it out of the park when it comes to making it crystal clear to the reader or audience, and not just because they’re dumber than a bag of hammers. But it could be that even a blind squirrel finds the occasional acorn, or one could be facing an eight hundred pound gorilla in the room. Even money suggests all writers should know the difference between a rock and a hard place.

Because you just cannot put the toothpaste back in the tube, these 7 Things to Avoid when it comes to cliché’s should be taken to heart. Don’t eat crow simply because you have to crawl before you can walk and therefore find clichés to be as cozy as a Playmate by the fire. All that glitters is not gold, so don’t wait until the last minute to realize you have more clichés than a Chinese phone book has, well, Chinese people’s phone numbers listed in there. Remember that you will reap what you sow, so keep your eyes peeled and on target. While the jury is still out regarding how many clichés are more than a happy camper should have, never forget that Mony a Mickle makes a Muckle.

Shooting Across the Bow. Never forget that this just might make you seem crazy as a loon. While shooting across the bow might make sense to Somali pirates, it could leave you skating on thin ice when you’re attempting solid writing. You might think you’re employing smoke and mirrors with your readers, what you’re really doing is dangling a carrot on a stick. Avoid digging yourself into a hole in this way; it could end up painting you into a corner. Now, don’t get your knickers in a knot! You can ensure finer writing if you polish this diamond in the rough and ensure you have the ball in your court. So, rather than shooting across the bow, keep your eye directly on the target.

Bite Off More than You Can Chew. Take your time when you write. Avoid the inappropriate clichés through keeping both feet firmly planted on the ground, but make sure you never, and I mean this, never give readers the shirt off your back, because if you give them an inch, they just might demand a mile. That won’t make sense if you look before you leap, so prevent taking on too much and look like the blind leading the blind. Careful negotiation of the words on the page would never appear to be blowing smoke up your reader’s ass; it’ll actually look as if you’re building that light at the end of the tunnel.

Appear to be Shooting Fish in a Barrel. While it may seem old school, realizing that one good turn deserves another should facilitate finer sentence structure without falling back on the extensive clichés in your prose. Now, proper writing doesn’t come out of the blue; the path of least resistance never should be regarded as par for the course. The whole enchilada is only achieved when you accept that it is not as easy as ABC or 123, but you can pass with flying colors when you pay the piper his due. But that won’t mean you’re out of the woods if you utilize smart language and original prose; you’ll still require a hefty dose of effort for your reader, because you’re playing for the name on the front of the jersey, not the name on the back of the jersey. Payback is a bitch, so make sure your readers know you’re not scraping the bottom of the barrel, but in fact shoot straight from the hip.

Nothing Ventured is Nothing Gained. Make sure you give it your best shot. If you’re in for a penny, you’re in for a pound, so make sure your reader knows that. It all comes out in the wash if you open the kimono and peel back the onion. So show some backbone and show them how the cow ate the cabbage. Don’t fan the flames, though. Simply make sure your writing is firing on all cylinders and keep it handy as a pocket on a shirt. Investing time in your work, each and every line, shows you’ve given it 110%. Good writing makes perception appear as reality to those who see the handwriting is on the wall when it comes to those who show more than just the tip of the iceberg.

Being as Dense as a London Fog. You’ll never jump any bones if you seem as if you just fell off the turnip truck. Being crystal clear only makes sense in good writing, as does being as plain as the nose on your face. Haste makes waste, so take the time to smell the roses when you’re writing. Sure, you still need to avoid placing clichés that seem to be nothing more than all over the map, just don’t piss on your reader’s leg and claim that it’s raining. You won’t have a row to hoe if you do no more than pay lip service, so you need all hands on deck when it comes to proper writing. If you shed the sheepskin and come out as snug as a bug in a rug, your writing will be as fine as a frog hair split four ways. And that, just so you know, is taking the world by storm, and the reader will see the feathers fly.

Show You have an Axe to Grind. Too much emotional investment may tempt the typical writer to employ unnecessary clichés and goofy euphemisms, showing you’re unsure of what side your bread is buttered. This lazy form of writing can take the wind right out of your sails, so if you can’t dance, don’t blame the DJ. Going off half-cocked is akin to flying by the seat of your pants even if you’re not taking the scenic route. With most online content, it truly is a penny for your thoughts, but a penny saved is a penny earned, so be as happy as a pig in shit and take the money and run. But don’t be a few fries short of a happy meal and reveal that you’re a jack of all trades and a master of none, or you’ll be pissing in the wind. Yes, this can be a bitter pill to swallow, but that which does not kill you only makes you stronger.

Ending up Behind the Eight Ball. At the crack of dawn, know that you can’t be asleep at the wheel or you’ll appear as if you haven’t seen the ball since kickoff. That will only make your writing as popular as a skunk at a pool party, and that is not just whistling Dixie. The intent of this avoidance warning isn’t to rattle your cage, but you must have at least some sort of idea of what you intend to write before you start clacking away- an outline or at least some notes- or it could end up raining pitchforks. That, my friends, is something you need like you need a hole in the head. If I’ve said it once I’ve said it a thousand times; if you’re going to talk the talk, you had better walk the walk. But hey, there’s no use of crying over spilled milk, so simply do your homework and you’ll be right as rain.

These 7 Things to Avoid will not only bring you greater fortune when pursuing better writing, but just might be right on the money for your situation. Remember that it isn’t whether you win or lose, but how you play the game, so get in it to win it and if you roll out the red carpet of intent, you just might be rolling in the dough. But be forewarned- if you want to roll in the dough, you have to be the one who harvests the wheat. You don’t necessarily have to take the road less traveled, as a rising tide lifts all boats, but writing is not a sprint but a marathon. You don’t have to reinvent the wheel, but you cannot rest on your laurels. But rest assured that you can do this! If you keep in mind that the end justifies the means, then you’ll realize that every dark cloud has a silver lining and that it’s the coldest before the dawn. So, while everything in life can’t copasetic all the time, those who recognize that it isn’t about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog are the ones who go home and bang the prom queen. You can do this, my friends! You can achieve finer writing, better prose, quality sentence structure, and plot that sings to the heavens. But you should avoid the clichés as if they’re burning like your urine after a weekend at SkankFest.

I do hope this tutorial helps you, my diligent friends. Please feel free to query me for more writing tips and instruction, and you too may be able to achieve scores of readers of your online content in a mere two to three years! Hey, I’m here for you, people; I am here for you.

Yeah, he loved cliches once.  Once.
Yeah, he loved cliches once. Once.


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