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How To Avoid Cliche In Your Writing.

Updated: Aug 9, 2022



The dictionary definition of a cliche is something that has been over-used to the point of losing its original meaning. But in writing circles, we use it to mean something that's just plain boring. Clichés are everywhere in our language; they're so common they become invisible—and sometimes even end up as unintended humor when someone uses one without realizing it! So if you think your own writing might be full of clichés (or if your friends or family members have told you so), don't fret: here are some tips for avoiding them and making sure your writing is as fresh and unique as possible.





Sentence level issues.


Sentence level issues are the most common problems writers face, and they're a great place to start when editing your own work.

  • Redundant Words: If you think about how many times you've used the word "said" in your story, it's probably more than you'd like. The same goes for other words that have been overused by so many writers before (like stared). Sometimes these words can be replaced with stronger verbs that convey the same meaning without sounding repetitive.


  • Filler Words: These are phrases such as "sort of," "maybe," or "I guess." They don't add anything to your writing, so cut them out!


  • Overused Phrases: This is something I often see in student writing—clichés such as "the world was never the same again" or "it was love at first sight." It's better to avoid these types of worn-out expressions altogether than try to make them sound fresh by changing one word here or there.


  • Overused Metaphors: Metaphors can be very effective when used correctly, but if overused they lose their impact and become clunky instead of beautiful or clever--and no one wants that! When looking for places where this might happen in your own work, ask yourself whether every metaphor serves its purpose as effectively as possible; if not, consider rewriting it into something different but equally powerful (or ditch it all together!).



Characterization.


Characterization is one of the most important aspects of writing. The way you write your characters will determine whether or not readers feel like they can relate to them, and that's what makes or breaks a story. In order to create characters with depth, you'll need to avoid some common pitfalls.


  • Avoiding stereotypes: It's easy to fall into the trap of using stock characters who have been written time and time again. You see this, especially in poorly-written romance novels, but it happens all over the place—even in some very good books! If you're going for a stereotype, make sure it has something exciting or unique about it which sets it apart from other similar characters (e.g., "This character is shy around people he doesn't know, unlike most shy people"). Otherwise, just steer clear!


  • Avoiding filler words: Filler words are those little pieces of language that don't really add anything significant to what you're saying (e.g., "and," "the," etc.). They're totally fine if used sparingly—but when they appear too often in your writing sentences start sounding clunky and awkward! The best way I've found for avoiding filler words is by reading through my writing aloud—it helps me catch any places where I'm repeating myself unnecessarily or saying something twice because I forgot where my sentence was going next.




Plot.


The plot is the sequence of events that make up a story. It's the most important element of any story, and it's what makes a story interesting and exciting. Readers read novels because they want to see how things end, so your plot needs to be good enough to keep them turning pages.


The plot is also what makes a story memorable: if you can't remember the main plot points after reading something (or even if you read it only a few days ago), chances are it wasn't perfect. Good writing sticks with us because we remember the characters, their relationships, and how those things played out through time. A great writer will ensure all of those elements are organized into an interesting narrative arc that keeps readers engaged from start to finish—and ultimately leaves them wanting more!



Dialogue.


Dialogue is the most important part of your story. It's what makes a story feel real, and it's what gives the audience insight into the characters' personalities, thoughts, feelings and attitudes.


When you're writing a scene that includes dialogue, ask yourself these questions:

  • What does each character want?

  • How do they feel about each other?



Metaphors and cliche phrases.

Metaphors and cliches are very different things. A metaphor is a figure of speech that compares one thing to another in order to illustrate how it is similar, while a cliche is an overused phrase that has become stale and boring because it's been repeated so many times. While metaphors can be good when they're original, they should be used sparingly.

When you use a metaphor, you want to make sure that the reader gets what you're talking about—and only then will your metaphor be effective at conveying your message. It has nothing to do with how many times you've heard or read something before; rather, it's all about whether or not the reader understands what you mean by comparing two things together in ways that haven't been done before!





Conclusion


In the end, cliches are just one of the many ways that you can improve your writing. Although they might seem like a harmless shortcut, they actually have a negative effect on your work and readers’ perception of it. At best, they distract from what you’re trying to say with their overuse; at worst, they may even cause readers to stop reading altogether! So if you find yourself using them too often (or if someone points out that your writing contains many), take these tips to heart—and start looking for alternatives!




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