Clichés--you can't help but hate them every time you see them!
Here's a list of some of the more common clichés:
- In a nutshell.
- At long last.
- Going forward.
- All walks of life.
- At the end of the day.
- Bring to the table.
- I'm giving it 110%.
- Don’t put off till tomorrow what you can do today.
- As bold as brass.
- Uphill battle.
- If it ain't broke, don't fix it.
- Too little, too late.
- Sleeping like the dead.
- Actions speak louder than words.
- Two wrongs don't make a right.
- Never say never.
- Laughter is the best medicine.
- People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones.
"But," you may be wondering, "why are these clichés bad? Isn't the fact that they're clichéd mean that they're 'tried and true'?" (another awesome cliché!)
Well, when your writing is full of clichés, it makes you--the writer--appear to be both uncreative and lazy. After all, good writers are supposed to create NEW things, not use the same tired phrases, stories, and plot lines that have been around forever.
When a reader sees clichés in your writing, it basically tells them "This writer isn't really trying hard enough." It often makes your readers lose interest in the book pretty darn fast!
In reading over my first draft of The Last Bucelarii--Book 1: Blade of the Destroyer
, I encountered a few interesting clichés:
- "His pride deflated like a balloon" -- Do you think the classic fantasy story has "balloons"? I don't, but even then using "like a balloon" is pretty lazy writing!
- The kindly priest -- I wanted to use a kindly priest to help convince the Hunter--a remorseless assassin who kills only for money--to do the right thing, but that's amazingly clichéd. Thanks to an alert beta-reader who pointed that out to me, now the priest is a hair away from killing the Hunter in retribution for his actions, but is only leaving him alive because he needs him to do a job. A less clichéd option that works much better.
- The monologuing villain -- Near the end of the book, the villain needs to give the Hunter a lot of information. The villain rambled on and on, with the Hunter saying little. That monologue is very clichéd, and usually ends up with the hero escaping while the villain's attention is focused on his speech. Definitely had to change that!
- Single-file fighting -- Like in kung-fu movies, many people will only fight one at a time. In the climactic scene, I had "number two" villain fighting while the "big bad" villain stood by and watched. If they were truly trying to kill the Hunter, they'd take him down together.
Watch out for those clichés--not just the phrases and words, but also plots and twists. Get creative, and don't resort to lazy writing!