Don’t Throw the Clichés out with the Bath Water

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Most people think clichés aren’t worth a hill of beans, but over at Salon, Orin Hargraves says they just haven’t gotten a fair shake. Hargraves thinks clichés are just a red herring; if you want to make sure your writing really is one-of-a-kind, he has this advice:

The best way to free your speech and writing of unneeded and detrimental clichés is to construct it thoughtfully, paying close attention to the common tendency to insert a ready form of words in a place where it easily fits. Does it really say what you mean to say? Or can you commandeer words from the vast store of English to do the job for you more effectively, by building up the expression of your ideas from smaller pieces? A writer and speaker who dimly illuminates his subjects with formulaic expressions, while also using such formulas to bind his thoughts together, unwittingly telegraphs to his audience that there is no need for them to pay attention because nothing is being said that they have not heard before.


P.E. Garcia is an Editor-at-Large for the Rumpus and a contributor to HTMLGiant. They currently live in Philadelphia, where they were recently accidentally elected to be Judge of Elections. Find them on Twitter: @AvantGarcia. More from this author →