Avoiding Clichéd Descriptions

Let’s clear the air: clichés are the vampires of creative writing—they suck the life out of your prose! In this next tip, you’re going to learn how to sharpen your writing stakes and banish those pesky clichés once and for all.

What Is a Cliché?

Ever read something like “he was as fast as lightning,” or “her eyes sparkled like diamonds”? Congratulations, you’ve encountered clichés! Originally a fresh, creative way to express an idea, clichés have been overused so much in language and writing that they’ve become trite, predictable, and, let’s face it, pretty boring.

Why Clichéd Descriptions Are Bad

Like an overcooked steak, clichés can leave a bad taste in your reader’s mouths as their eyes roll back in their heads. They signal a lack of originality and can make your story feel generic. After all, your readers are looking for a unique journey, not a repeat of every book they’ve ever read!

Example of a Clichéd Description

Clichéd: “He had a heart of gold.”

Let’s give it a fresh spin: “His generosity was as boundless as the ocean, always willing to give, even if it meant going without.”

Can you feel the difference? The clichéd version is predictable and lacks emotion. The revised version paints a more vivid picture of the character’s generosity.

Ways to Avoid Clichéd Descriptions

  1. Be aware: Recognize common clichés so you can spot them in your writing.
  2. Be original: Try to find fresh, unique ways to express familiar concepts.
  3. Be specific: Vague descriptions often lead to clichés. Dig deeper into the specifics.
  4. Read a lot: The more you read, the more you’re exposed to different ways of describing similar things.

Avoiding clichéd descriptions will ensure that your narrative stands out, engaging your reader with fresh and unexpected imagery. Remember, in writing, it’s often the road less traveled that makes all the difference.