If you've heard it once, you've heard it a thousand times . . . avoid clichés like the plague. Okay, so yeah, that whole first sentence was a royal no-no, but today I'm here to say you can use clichés in your writing, as long as you know how to do it. So slap on a helmet and let's go.
The reason clichés are frowned upon is because they're so overdone, readers not only gloss over them, they do so with a gag reflex. Using common phrases are a sign of a rookie writer. No one wants to look like a novice, so here are some handy dandy ways to incorporate clichés with a fresh twist.
3 Ways to Uncliché a Cliché
1. Freshen up the old with the new.
A fun way to surprise a reader is to use an old phrase but give it a new twist. Add on to it. Example: The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence — because his neighbor uses fertilizer.
2. Do the unexpected.
Spicing up a cliché is really an opportunity to get creative. Instead of using "not in a million years" you could use the same concept by applying it to something else that lasts a long time. Example: Not in an ocean's lifetime.
3. Go opposite.
Twist a negative cliché into a positive one, or vice versa. Instead of the positive: you have to look through the rain to see the rainbow, tweak the end so it's negative. Example: You have to look through the rain to see the tornado that's headed straight at you.
As you can see, it takes way more brain work to breathe life into an old, worn-out mess of words, but when done creatively, it's a great way to perk up your writing and delight a reader.
I hear voices. Loud. Incessant. And very real. Which basically gives me
two options: choke back massive amounts of Prozac or write fiction. I chose the
latter. Way cheaper. I've been writing since I discovered blank wall space and
Crayolas. I seek to glorify God in all that I write...except for that graffiti
phase I went through as a teenager. Oops. Did I say that out loud?