Whenever you use a cliché, you are knowingly writing something unoriginal. Clichés are what you write when you don’t have the energy or inspiration to think of something new to say.
Writers often use clichés when they are working on their ﬁrst draft because thinking up original wording takes time and can interrupt creative ﬂow. That’s ﬁne. But, when you go back to edit, be creative and brainstorm for fresh ideas. A new analogy or metaphor will make much more of an impression on your readers than a dusty old cliché. A good writer may create and reject over a dozen images before ﬁnding the right one, so don’t worry if it takes you a while.
Every word in your writing should be there for a reason. Redundant expressions make writing longer, not better. Look at these four examples:
- She peered through the hollow tube.
- He stepped out on the frozen ice.
- She followed her natural instinct.
- His writing was peppered with overused clichés.
In all four cases, the penultimate word is superfluous. Redundancies can happen across a sentence, too:
- The problems ﬁrst began when Gary lost his job.
The word began means “the ﬁrst occurrence”, so the word ﬁrst is redundant.
- Sam, Tom and Susie gathered together around the ﬁre.
The word gathered means “to come together”, so the word together is redundant.
- He reversed the car back down the driveway.
As opposed to reversing it forward ? Drop the word back because it’s redundant. Redundancies add quantity, not quality. Eliminate the clutter.
Use ProWritingAid’s Cliché and Redundancy Check to highlight those that have crept into your writing.