Keep Your Book Fresh: Avoid These 25 Writing Clichés

10 May

Everyone has key phrases that they tend to use frequently. Some of those key phrases also might be used by others, repeatedly. We’ve all heard them, they’re called clichés.

It is very easy to introduce clichés into your book. While there are instances where a cliché might be necessary and effective, such as when you’re establishing a character’s voice, constant use tends to make your writing feel monotonous for readers. Used too frequently, clichés tell the reader that you are a) Too lazy to come up with an original way to phrase your passage, b) Too unoriginal to come up with an original way to phrase your passage, or c) Just a bad writer. These three things can be commonly linked.

Here are 25 of the most overly used and underwhelming clichés that tend to show up in books and bore readers:

    1) “Time and again”

    2) “At the end of the day”

    3) “Cut to the chase”

    4) “Tears rolled down her face”

    5) “At the crack of dawn”

    6) “Grin from ear to ear”

    7) “The writing’s on the wall”

    8) “Not a penny to his name”

    9) “In a wink”

    10) “In the nick of time”

    11) “It will/would do”

    12) “Joined at the hip”

    13) “Learn the ropes”

    14) “A last-ditch effort”

    15) “Light at the end of the tunnel”

    16) “My hands are tied”

    17) “A necessary evil”

    18) “Object of desire”

    19) “In due time”

    20) “A far cry”

    21) “Deal [Dealt] a fatal blow”

    22) “He received a severe tongue lashing”

    23) “She came across a _______”

    24) “The end justifies the means”

    25) “He made waves”

If there are specific phrases that you know to use too frequently, it might be useful to use Microsoft Word’s “Find” feature to pinpoint them in your revising.

What clichés do you find yourself prone to using in your writing?


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