Clichés and writing!? Do you find clichés boring and overused? Clichés aren’t new and, perhaps, as old as the hills? My question is why do we hear them? Why do we see them? Where do they originate? Do we have any use for them? Perhaps, we find them useful to express our thoughts?
Definition of cliché by Merriam-Webster-
1: a trite phrase or expression
also : the idea expressed by it
2: a hackneyed theme, characterization, or situation
3: something (such as a menu item) that has become overly familiar or commonplace
“The reason that clichés become clichés is that they are the hammers and screwdrivers in the toolbox of communication.” ― Terry Pratchett
In writing, occasionally clichés work to add a little humor or character, something to make our work stand out and capture our readers attention. Clichés can also have the opposite effect by creating useless clutter in our writing and confuse the reader.
Here is a short story I wrote loaded with clichés. See if you can spot them!
He was a good soul, a chip off the old block, but afraid of his own shadow. Needless to say, there was many a time he had to weather the storm because, for all intents and purposes, he was determined to find his long lost love. Though he was a man of few words, he couldn’t cut the mustard but, his heart was as good as gold. You can bet your bottom dollar, he would be a good husband and a good father.
The years came and went. He was at wits end. Playing the field rubbed him the wrong way because he was tired of hearing the same old story. But as luck would have it, will wonders never cease, there she was, cute as a button. She was down to earth and fresh as a daisy. Yes, it goes without saying good things come to those who wait. Never say never and shoot for the moon because all’s well that ends well.
And here is my example, without as many clichés –
He was a good man, like his father, but hesitant and naive. Though his life wasn’t easy, he was determined to find his true love. He was a quiet man, sometimes withdrawn, but he had a good heart. No doubt, he would be an excellent husband and father.
Years went by and he was discouraged. He wasn’t the type to date or meet and greet. Sincerity was very important to him. Then one day, he met the woman of his dreams. His patience paid off, and they lived happily ever after.
“It is a cliche that most cliches are true, but then like most cliches, that cliche is untrue.” ― Stephen Fry
Some clichés have become so commonplace, we don’t realize we’re using them. Yet, there are instances where I feel they are useful in making our point. But, like everything, moderation is key.
Do you cringe when they are present in what you are reading, or even in conversation?
Or do you just take them in your stride, not even giving their use any thought?
“One of the more ignominious features of love was that you could only express it with cliches…it made you sound like a fraud at a time when you were blazing with sincerity.” ― Lisa Kleypas
Here are a few examples of clichés –
a chip off the old block, bee in her bonnet, clear as mud, dressed to kill, easy as pie
fit as a fiddle, go for broke, hair of the dog, in a nutshell, jump the gun, kick the bucket
lies like a rug, mark my words, nip it in the bud, off the wall, plenty of fish in the sea
quick as a wink, red as a beet, sharp a tack, thick as a brick, up his sleeve
vain attempt, weather the storm, yanking your chain
Cliches (properly spelled clichés, with the acute accent). Note, some of the quotes I used didn’t use the proper spelling for the word cliché, which I included as originally quoted by the author.
“Only in art were there cliches; never in nature. There were no ordinary human beings. Everybody was born with surprise inside.” ― Jincy Willett
What are your thoughts on clichés? Do you find yourself using them or avoiding them?
Eugenia enjoyed a dedicated career in the insurance industry for over 20 years being rewarded both professionally and personally. Now it’s time for Eugenia to follow her dreams by doing things she enjoys…spending time with family, learning, sharing, traveling, writing poetry and encouraging others to pursue their goals. Eugenia’s writing and creative endeavors can be found at her blogs, Eugi’s Causerie and Eugi’s Milieu. Eugenia has authored ebooks, “Fanciful Delights” and “Mama, me and Mother Nature”. She is also a published author on Spillwords Publishing and a contributing author to the FAE Dreams Anthology and the PS: Its Poetry-PoetrySoup Anthology