Friday, July 11, 2008

Avoid Clichés Like the Plague

“Our writers are full of clichés just as old barns are full of bats. There is obviously no rule about this, except that anything that you suspect of being a cliché undoubtedly is one and had better be removed.”—Wolcott Gibbs

It was a dark and stormy night, and my back was against the wall. I couldn’t think of one sentence to write. I could not see the light at the end of the tunnel. So I decided to shake things up a bit. I decided to take the plunge to shatter my writer’s block. No matter how hard I tried, I could not put my best writing foot forward.

Moral of This Story?
Avoid the same-old, same-old. Never use a cliché, metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech that you’ve repeatedly heard or read.

The dictionary at answers.com defines cliché [klee sháy] as, “A trite or overused expression or idea. Cliché is the [French, past participle of clicher, to stereotype (imitative of the sound made when the matrix is dropped into molten metal to make a stereotype plate).]”

How Do You Recognize a Cliché?
It is a phrase that has or is—
Lost its originality or original effectiveness or power from overuse
Overly familiar
A once-original thought that has become a truism, an obvious truth.

From Soup to Nuts
Avoid cacosyntheton (cak-o-SIN-the-ton), which from the Greek means “badly composed.” If you suspect a phrase is worn out, check out these websites listing “tired old clichés.”

Gardening Clichés
Everyday Shakespearean Clichés
Movie Clichés
Clichés: Avoid Them Like the Plague

So there you have it.
It is what it is.

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