To coin a cliche.

Take a look at Ruth’s post here. 

I have an affection for the cliché; I know they’re classed in the writing world as wrong. In this months Writing magazine one of the letters is from a reader who is in despair at being told her work was loaded with the little gems. I’ve sent in a reply sticking up for clichés, not expecting it to be published, only to give my opinion.

When I first began writing and took a comprehensive course, my assignments would come back with red pen through most of it with cliché scribbled in red pen over the work. Not even knowing the meaning of the word, I was quite surprised at how many I’d used. It took a long while for me to fully understand how wrong they can be and to try hard not to fill my sentences with them.

BUT: There is a place for them sometimes… I’m reading a Simon Brett mystery. The shooting in the Shop. One of the characters is a bit starchy and old-fashioned, therefore, a cliché or two from her makes sense. It’s usually in speech from an older character that they sound alright to me.

There are plenty of modern-day clichés that do annoy me, but they’re used by everybody everyday. In journalism we see the corny headlines and sometimes on Women’s magazines, we see the dramatic faces of celebrities, then when you read the article, it boils down to nothing; yet the cliché sold the paper or made you pick up the magazine. Weight-loss ones are the worst. Drop two dress sizes in two weeks. As if that would work, but I’ve seen plenty of people buying them. I flick through, then put them back.

From seeing that cartoon on Ruth’s blog, I now see the reason behind all good editors rejecting clichés, but I hold an affection for them. They’re like old comfy jumpers and slippers, if we let them go it’s like losing something of our past.

Does anyone else feel the same?

Digital image
I love a good old fashioned cliche, you mark my words, it never rains but it pours, one day at a time and best foot forward…..


Susan will be out of the office for a week; gone to de-clutter the cliché habit.

10 thoughts on “To coin a cliche.

  1. That’s the spirit Sally… Glad you agree, sometimes they fit don’t they? I was my writing tutor’s nightmare for them though. Now I understand how they can grind on people’s nerves.

    1. That’s exactly it Ruth… I’m reading Simon Brett’s Shooting in the shop as I mentioned in the post, he uses them wisely, and always says, in speech, ‘to resort to a cliche’ then whatever one he’s using and it works fine for me. Glad you gave me the idea to post.

  2. The problem with cliches is that most of them start as original phrases but because they are unusual/ clever/ vivid etc. too many people copy them and over use them. I try to keep them out of non-fiction but, like you, I think they can be useful in fiction. You can tell a lot about a character by the type of cliches they use.

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