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Avoid Writing Clichés: Good Writers "Think Outside of the Box"

I've been using these writing tips for years with great success, and I hope they help you too!

Thinking inside the box is bad.

Thinking inside the box is bad.

Avoid Clichés: Good Writing Means “Thinking Outside of the Box”

Well, if you caught the irony in my title, you are free to go and don’t have to read the rest of this. If you did NOT catch the irony, then you might find something useful in what I have to say. First, let’s establish what I mean by cliché. A cliché is an idea, often a catchy phrase, that has been used so much that everyone recognizes it immediately. “Better safe than sorry” and “It takes two to tango” are examples that come to mind off the top of my head.

Clichés are useful because they convey ideas quickly, the phrase encompassing a larger concept that everyone already understands. All the work of communicating the idea has been done by whoever coined the original phrase, having done it so cleverly that the specific construction of words was repeated often enough to become a cliché.

A perfect example of that is the phrase “think outside of the box.” Someone somewhere in the last half-century or so crafted this phrase to embody the idea of how our thinking sometimes gets locked into a small place, confined by “a box” that limits our access to new ideas and new ways of looking at and approaching problems.

To “think outside the box” means to find NEW ways of doing things. Which is why it is ironic now. Any time you use “think outside the box” to express the need for originality, you are NOT expressing that need WITH originality. You are using a cliché.

Thinking outside the box is bad too.

Thinking outside the box is bad too.

You Should Work Very Hard to Remove Clichés

Beyond how amusing that might be to think about, the greater point is to point it out about writing. Whether you are writing a novel, a short story, copy for a marketing piece, be it magazine, website or radio script, you should work very hard to remove clichés.

“But why?” you might ask. I just said a few paragraphs up that “Clichés are useful because they convey ideas quickly” and that is a good thing, right? Well, in theory, yes. But clichés are boring. Think about this: how often do you read the same book over and over? Or watch the same episode of some TV show? A movie? I bet your first thought was, “Hah, hah! I watch such-and-such all the time.” Right.

You can probably list the handful of movies/books/episodes you are willing to watch repeatedly. Can you think of any that you used to re-read/watch/listen but eventually grew tired of? Any songs come to mind? And what about all the rest? What about every other show and movie and book and poem and song and joke you’ve ever come across? How interesting would they be the second time, the fifth time, the hundredth time?

This Song Is so Full of Clichés It Burns My Ears

No matter how clever something is the first time or two, eventually it loses the ability to be interesting. It gets stale. Most things get stale very quickly. Really clever stuff gets used until it becomes stale from overuse, becomes cliché.

So, when you are writing you need to think of your poor readers. They do not want to read a bunch of crap they've already read before. They want to have a NEW experience. They want YOU to think outside the box when you are writing so they don’t have to read the phrase “think outside the box” again for the ninety-thousandth time. They want you to do the creative work of giving them a fresh idea to think about.

If you’re trying to get people to look for innovative ideas, tell them to “look under a new bed” or “hunt for prey in foreign woods” or something even better than that that YOU think of. Heck, just say “try to think of something new.” Use your creative power to invent new language, or just say what you mean straight out. One is clever, the other is honest, and either will help hold your readers’ interest.

avoid-writing-cliches-good-writing-means-learning-to-think-outside-of-the-box

You Need Your Readers to Be Engaged

Avoiding clichés matters because, if you’re trying to sell a product with your marketing piece, you need your readers to be engaged in the copy long enough to get to the offer or the link. If you’re writing a novel or short story, you need them to feel like they are in an interesting place spending time with characters they’ve never known before. If they keep running across clichéd language, they’re going to think, whether consciously or unconsciously, that they have “been down this road before.” If they’ve “already seen this” before, they are NOT going to be as emotionally engaged as they would if they were seeing something for the first time.

Now, we’ve all been told a million times that there are no new ideas. That’s true. However, there are new ways to say things that are subtle reflections of you and your values and personal aesthetics. YOU have never been before, so you can rearrange old letters and old words into something that is new.

Clichés happen to all of us. When I’m writing, I end up with lots of them popping up like weeds in my writing. It’s fine, that doesn’t mean I’m a terrible writer or a bad person. They are code for bigger ideas. And that’s great. When I go through my work and spot them, they tell me a lot. They tell me the concept I was getting at, point it out all nice and packaged neat. They ALSO tell me that I was clearly in a hurry at that point in my draft and that now I need to go back and open up that idea, slow down and rewrite it, taking the care to really understand what my point was beyond the easy, lazy language of the cliché.

If my point was just the cliché, and if the cliché REALLY SERVES MY POINT, well, maybe I’ll leave it. But I try very hard to catch them, and if I leave them, it will be by choice, not by accident. Finding readers is hard to do. Respect them, and do the work it takes to give them something new.

A Test: Find the Clichés

If you want to test your ability to catch clichés, go back through this and see how many you can find. I went through and found one very obvious one and a few more that may or may not be cliché depending on how meticulous I want to be and how hard I want to work to make this piece original. I’m not counting the use of “outside the box” and any other cliché that I put in quotes.

Go ahead, go see how generic I was when I drafted this. I left them all in so you can see. Even trying to think about not using clichés, I did anyway. They are like that plastic wrap that comes on new CDs, the stuff with the static cling that you can't shake off without some effort. Go ahead and check my work, and then scroll down and compare notes with me.

Quiz

For each question, choose the best answer for you.

  1. How many cliches did you find?
    • 0
    • 1 - 2
    • 3 - 4
    • 5 - 6
    • 7 or more

Scoring

Use the scoring guide below to add up your total points based on your answers.

  1. How many cliches did you find?
    • 0: +0 points
    • 1 - 2: +1 point
    • 3 - 4: +2 points
    • 5 - 6: +3 points
    • 7 or more: +4 points

Interpreting Your Score

A score between 0 and 1 means: You missed them all. If you were just being nice, I appreciate your being kind to me, but you need to practice looking for cliches.

A score of 2 means: Well, you missed a few, but I admit I was being picky on some.

A score of 3 means: Nicely done. You have a good eye for spotting cliche. There a few more in my opinion as you will see.

A score of 4 means: Nice! You are an editing machine. You probably already go through your own writing, but if not, you totally have the skill to make your writing sing!

Answer Key

Ok, if you're still with me, let's see if we agree on all of these. If you found some I missed, feel free to point them out in the comments. Here’s my list.

  1. Come quickly to mind (paragraph 2)
  2. Off the top of my head (paragraph 2)
  3. Coined the original phrase (paragraph 2)
  4. It gets stale – “stale” in general (paragraph 7)
  5. Told a million times (paragraph 11)
  6. Running across (paragraph 14)
  7. Nice and packaged neat (paragraph 16)
  8. Serves my point (paragraph 16—I'm being picky here)
  9. Popping up like weeds (paragraph 16—this is the worst of them!)

Now you may or may not agree that all of these are clichés. You may have found others beyond my list. But I want to make this one idea really clear: whether something is “technically” a cliché or not is not the point. The point is that you use good, strong language when you write. That you make careful choices in the words and phrases you put down. If something seems old to you, over-used, then it IS over-used. It doesn’t matter if I recognize it or not. If you do, then it is tired language. It might not “count” as cliché to everyone, but if it does to you, think about it and decide if you really want it in your piece. Maybe it’s fine. It very well might be. But you be in control of that. Don’t let your language be an accident.

Comments

Gerrilyn on January 10, 2015:

Now I feel stpdui. That's cleared it up for me

Linda on January 09, 2015:

I miss your face. And since I have to miss YOU, I am happy I don't have to miss your photos, too. Like Gladys, you hepapn to be one of my biggest inspirations, too. I know it's strange for you to hear that, from anyone, given your humble beginnings but you've got it. And you should own it. Grab hold of it, run with it, tattoo it on your ass. You're amazing.Talented.Kind.Real.Thank you.For being all those things.While still being humble.Human.A friend.I heart the crap outta you.XoA

Brianna on August 20, 2013:

Oooh. Time and again. That's a cliché isn't it. Oops. ;)

Brianna on August 20, 2013:

This was linked on my online English class. I wasn't going to read it because I have learned about how to avoid cliches time and again. It can be difficult to do so but I, too, can often catch them when I proofread. I read it, anyway, and have to say it was an enjoyable read. I caught all nine cliches. After a while, I began to suspect they had purposely been left there. ;)

Shadesbreath (author) from California on July 03, 2012:

Hah, BobandDylan, you might be. I actually don't mind it for a while, he does sing well, but then the cliches start stacking up, the joke turns to torture--making his point, true--and then, well, I start looking for the nearest cliff to throw myself off.

BobandDylan on July 02, 2012:

Was I the only one who liked the song? Although, it was probably because I was listening to his voice rather than the lyrics.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 16, 2012:

I'm glad you were amused and found something you could use, Sonya. Thanks for reading and for leaving a kind comment.

Sonya L Morley from Edinburgh on April 16, 2012:

Your style of writing is fresh, I like that. I shall be reading more of your hubs. This article is both entertaining and useful, I like that too.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 28, 2012:

Yeah, Roberto, there are definitely times where a cliché is precisely what is called for. I think as long as people are looking for those times and cutting the others, it's all good. :)

Thanks for reading and commenting. :)

Roberto Magallanes Ramos. on March 28, 2012:

In scientific writing you must "give" the reference from where you got the in formation; in a way, some cliches are useful to "back you up" in whatever opinion you have.

It´s note the same: "I think" that "I know"; or at least you get a "partner" to share success or blame. Thank you.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 03, 2012:

LOL. I know. I like to think I don't do it, but I do it all the time. It's literally impossible to not do. It is possible to catch them, however. Still hard, but possible; for me, it actually requires its own distinct editing sweep. (sigh). Still don't get them all, but, at least I try. All you can do, right?

Barnsey from Happy Hunting Grounds on March 03, 2012:

Wow, thank you, Obi Wan, for your wisdom. I have to go back over the last four novels I wrote now, thanks alot pal!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 05, 2011:

Yeah, that's a tough one lol. Kudos for trying.

The Jet from The Bay on April 05, 2011:

Listened to the "Cliched Song" and I ALMOST made it through the end. Lol.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 16, 2011:

Glad to be of some assistance. :) Thanks for reading, Tweetmom.

Tweetmom from Newark on March 15, 2011:

Just what i needed. Great hub!!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on September 10, 2010:

That's all we can do as writers, Kubth. Try to spot them. They are so much a part of our every day, especially now days where we are exposed to sooooo much language all the time, literally everywhere we turn our eyes and ears. Sometimes it seems almost impossible to utter any combination of words that means anything and yet hasn't been assembled a zillion times before. It's like the Library of Babel opened up and puked on the world.

kubth from UK on September 10, 2010:

Great hub, I guess I can be guilty of using lazy cliches from time to time (oops, there's one), but I do try to be a little more creative as often as possible.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on August 30, 2010:

Welcome to HP, Ncosby. I hope you enjoy your experience at HP. It's a fun place and there are lots of writers you will enjoy as you look around over the coming weeks and months. Thank you for the very kind words about style and this hub, I appreciate that a lot, and it's nice to hear.

ncosby on August 29, 2010:

I have just joined HB today and have been browsing throuh various hubs. This is by far the most refreshing hub I have read. Your personality and writing style resonates through your words so freely. I love to write, but at times I can get lazy and cheat the reader out of a meaningul experience. A reader to a writer is water to a fish ;-) I look forward to reading more of your hubs. I hope my writing can be half as entertaining.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on August 03, 2010:

Hey, fancy meeting you here. And I totally agree with you that there are places to use cliches. In fact, I would say there are places where using a cliché might be the perfect rhetorical choice... be it to make a point (your first point) or to destroy one (your second).

William Thomas from That Great Primordial Smash UP of This and That Which Gave Rise To All Beings and All Things! on August 03, 2010:

Good Day Shadesbreath

I thought I had commented on this one already. But I hadn't. I voted this up for useful, of course. Your last sentence says it all: "Don't let your language be an accident."

I would just add that I use cliches, but mostly in a very deliberate sense. I put quotes around them [(I noticed you said you didn't count as part of your cliché tally, those you put in quotes)] to let the reader know that I know they are cliches.

My second purpose in deploying these cliches is to, throw back into the face of an imaginary intellectual opponent, certain tired, worn, utterly discredited, failed ideas.

Its like doing a form in martial arts in which the practitioner is "fighting" an imaginary opponent, as well as displaying his mastery of proper technique for an audience. See ya later and as tonymc04 would say...

Love and Peace!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 25, 2010:

LOL. Old Kate had a thing against ovines and caprines, eh?

Baileybear on June 25, 2010:

I looked her up - her name is Kathy Lette - Australian author living in London. I read that article in a magazine a while back. Looked one up on net and she mentioned "mutton dressed as ram" too - referring to women that refuse to grow old gracefully

Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 24, 2010:

I tried to Google it and came up empty (well, three top ones didn't give me the name... so I gave up; lol -- so much for academic rigor, eh? :D ) Still funny stuff.

Baileybear on June 23, 2010:

The writer that came up with that one was Kathy somebody (I'm hopeless with names). She's met the royal family and her article was hilarious. She was referring to Kate having to wear boring tweed for a royal event (polo?). She had many clever re-inventions of cliches - so fresh, I can't remember what any others were!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 23, 2010:

LOL @ "Lamb dressed as mutton." And you are correct, some of the cheekiest of the cheeky have found this hub and cheekified it as they are wont to do. Which is a good thing, being the cheek fan I am. :D

Baileybear on June 23, 2010:

Looks like lots of very cheeky hubbers on here. I first learnt about cliches when my school English teacher said he loved my essay, but it was full of cliches. I like it when someone reinvents a cliché eg I read someone describing Kate Middleton as "lamb dressed as mutton".

Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 10, 2010:

Yeah, at least for now, until I get the nails done. :)

Randy Behavior from Near the Ocean on June 10, 2010:

Shades, so I should hold my head up high because you have ugly feet? O.K. then.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 10, 2010:

I agree with you, Dobson. And it may be that they are unaware. We use them so much in every day speaking that it may be some people just don't know what "cliché" really means. HOpefully folks will find some use in this. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Dobson from Virginia on June 10, 2010:

The use of cliches shows a bit of laziness on the writer's part. Perhaps they are unaware. Maybe after reading this hub the writer's that do will pay more attention. I like your perspective Shadesbreath!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 10, 2010:

Naw, don't hang your head low. If people have to feel bad about missing stuff like that, well, we'd all spend most of our time staring at our feet. Which I guess isn't so bad if you are a girl and have dainty feet, but for most guys, and even for women with, like, toe fungus and stuff, that would suck if you think about. I mean, who wants to go around staring at an all nasty toe? Plus, some people would become self conscious about them, and, can you imagine if guys started painting their toes?! The vanity alone would be emasculating to the extreme. ...Although, those little scenery things some salons paint on there, and the little stickers and sparkles would be fun, wouldn't they? Hmmmm

Randy Behavior from Near the Ocean on June 09, 2010:

I didn't get the pun of the title until you spelled it out for me. Ashamed, I guess I will be leaving now, with my head hung lower than low.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on June 09, 2010:

Thank you, I Do. I have to say, not having a computer at home would definitely make making hubs harder. But it is very fun to get stories out and to get nice comments like yours, so, definitely maybe write them down on paper and type them up real quick when you get some cafe or library time. :)

I Do. from N.Y, N.Y on June 09, 2010:

I am new to this... and having no computer at home makes it really hard for me to have time to myself to make a hub. I have a lot of ideas/ stories to post, but I will definitely take every tip you have given into great consideration.

Thank you!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on May 06, 2010:

LOL, me too. I'm a fan of "Once upon a time" too, if truth be told.

cosette on May 06, 2010:

:) nice hub. i still like "It was a dark and stormy night" even though some circles sniff at it. ;)

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 30, 2010:

Hmm, good question LoneWolf. I bet we could get a debate started on that one if we had a forum for this. And you're right about making titles short and catchy. A good creative fresh title could become a new cliché.

LoneWolfMuskoka from Huntsville, Ontario, Canada on April 30, 2010:

While you have a cliché in your title I still continued reading the article. I think that there is a place for clichés as you described. Titles are probably one of the places that they can be very effective as they need to be short, catchy and simple.

They are also quite useful in comments 8=) Is a smiley face a cliché? LOL!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 30, 2010:

I am soooooo grateful that you said soooooo. :)

Dense from somewhere in a concrete jungle, hugging a green plastic tree, and wondering what happened on April 30, 2010:

This is just SOOOOOO Oh good! :D

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 30, 2010:

Good, Caterino! Aoiding them is the best way to prevent that plague. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Caterino from Greenville South Carolina on April 30, 2010:

I avoid Clichés like the plague.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 28, 2010:

I guess you got the last word on the cliches, B.T.

B.T. Evilpants from Hell, MI on April 28, 2010:

Oh well. I tried to put it in the cheap seats but I guess it was a swing and a miss. Story of my life. Always a day late and a dollar short. Just another day at the races, I guess.

That's clever, Patty. You really march to the beat of a different drummer, don't you?

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 28, 2010:

B.T., your cliche's are sub par. My sports cliches have yours down for the count. Patty, I think that's a seven ten split what you just did.

Patty Inglish MS from USA and Asgardia, the First Space Nation on April 28, 2010:

We must sing outside the mountain.

B.T. Evilpants from Hell, MI on April 28, 2010:

LOL! You really took me to the mat on that one! Sent me back to the minors, you did. I must be off my game!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 28, 2010:

Yes, BT, using a sports cliché is a great play out of the old writing play book. They help bring an idea home. Feel free to use them, use several of them, and swing for the fences when you write. Your writing will go the whole nine yards when it comes to scoring points with your ideas.

B.T. Evilpants from Hell, MI on April 28, 2010:

I try to keep cliches out of my writing, but I wish I had a nickel for every time I caught one after I had already pulled the trigger on a hub. I'd be on easy street by now!

Great hub, Shades. You hit this one out of the park! Sport cliches are still ok, right?

SummerSteward from Duluth MN on April 28, 2010:

No problem, I saw you in the forums and liked how mad you were at some of the talent here being wasted or unappreciated. I decided to check you out and am glad I did. Cheers!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 28, 2010:

Thanks, Summmer. I agree with you that creating something new is a key element of being a good writer, not just re-typing what someone else came up with. And it is fun when, with work, we stumble upon some cool new idea. That's the joy of it... discovering what we know that we didn't really know we knew until we pushed ourselves. Thanks for the read and nice response.

SummerSteward from Duluth MN on April 28, 2010:

Hey, I really liked this hub, reminded me of my own writing process, avoiding cliches and saying something new is what makes us writers and it's a very enjoyable process to see a piece of work unfold in an interestingly new perspective. Good hub, I'll be sure to read more!

Shadesbreath (author) from California on April 24, 2010:

Hi Gypsy! I am tickled pink by your fueled flames of passionate agreement. :D

Thanks for reading my hub despite its painful opening cliché too. Your acquaintance with the tangled up clichés reminds me of a few people I run across in the course of my days too. I actually kind of enjoy listening to old addages get butchered and stuff. At least it has an entertainment value of sorts. I believe it was yesterday I heard someone say, "For all intensive purposes." I mean, I know what he meant, and it's cool, but it is interesting to watch the language evolve. It gives physical and immediate reality to the etymology we study in school.

russiangypsygirl on April 24, 2010:

Hi Shadesbreath. I decided to read your hub even though I DID catch the irony in your title. =) Hope you don't mind. Ha. I just did it to you. If there is one thing I can say that I truly despise in writing and in conversation, it would be cliches. I know someone who used so many and tangled them all up in one sentence, that I am convinced he lost his meaning every time. It did not 'drive me insane', it made me want to grip hold of his shoulders and shake fiercely until I felt better.=) My favorite part of your hub was when you pointed out that the reader craves a new thought, an original rendition. Thanks for an entertaining read that fueled the flames of my passionate agreement. =) Cheers, Gypsy

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 29, 2010:

Thanks, MPG, I hope you do come back for sampling of my madder madnesses. (lol)

Hi Pam! Great to see you. I know what you mean about those two, too. They're just not creative thinking, no attempt to really sum up the idea with a good metaphor, or, in other words, lazy writing. Needless to say, I try not to do that when I write. :)

Pam Roberson from Virginia on March 28, 2010:

Very nice! Two that drive me nuts: "needless to say" and "in other words." Those two alone make me scream...not a good scream, like a sex scream, but a "Oh my Gawd...a crazy chainsaw man is chasing me!" scream.

I enjoyed this! Thanks! :)

Maria Giunta from Sydney, Australia on March 28, 2010:

I had a good laugh at this hub. Thanks Shadesbreath, looking forward to reading more of your work when I have time. Cheers, Marie (MPG Narratives).

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 21, 2010:

Your welcome. :)

pinkhawk from Pearl of the Orient on March 21, 2010:

..."Think outside of the box"- I think I need to apply this in my work...in my life! Thank you! :)

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 20, 2010:

Thanks, Jen. Isn't that song a hoot... at first? It gets painful after a while. There's a Nickelback song that they play endlessly on the radio that is exactly the same except that I don't think Nickleback realizes how awful it is. I think they think it's profound, but I hope I am wrong about that.

Hi Lorlie6, I agree with you that obscenities can be gratuitous, although, I must confess to sometimes using them for purposes of voice or character. But I think you point out another area of writing that definintely needs to be in the intentional control of the writer. If it's there, it better be there on purpose, and not just "yeah, I meant to put that there" on purpose, but more of "that is there because it serves my piece in this (xyz) specific way" kind of on purpose. Thanks for that, and thanks for the "fabulous" comment. That makes any writer's heart go pitty-pat. :)

Laurel Rogers from Grizzly Flats, Ca on March 20, 2010:

Shadesbreath, cliches remind me of using obscenities when writing. Lazy, annoying and tiring.

This is a fabulous hub,

Laurel

Jen's Solitude from Delaware on March 20, 2010:

This was a very entertaining way to learn to be more original. Thank you very much. I also enjoyed the cliché song and yes it also makes your point perfectly. lol

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 19, 2010:

Thanks Sandy. :)

Sandy Mertens from Wisconsin, USA on March 19, 2010:

Great advice.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 19, 2010:

Rochelle, that's how I should have put it. That is the point. Be creative and new and you COULD be the new cliché. How cool would that be? (and here's a website with all that accent stuff on it http://www.starr.net/is/type/altnum.htm) the é is cntrl-0233 etc.

Christoph, sup stranger! I know I flaked on posting anything over there. I guess it was fate. She disconnected me the same day I was going to paste in a little memoir piece I wrote for a class. Just shows I probably wasn't meant to post it. Glad to see you around.

Christoph Reilly from St. Louis on March 19, 2010:

Chris wuz here. For people who don't know, you explained it well and with humor.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on March 19, 2010:

Also: How do you get the little accent mark over your "e" in words like "cliché"s? I feel so illiterate in the grapheme genre.

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on March 19, 2010:

I also had a writing teacher who explained, as you did, that a cliché is an original, apt and memorable phrase, that become overused, because of its aptness and memorableness. He always said we need some new cliches-- and we should strive to invent them in our own writing.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 19, 2010:

lol, Renoelle, you and Suszy are BAAAAd. Or, should I say, you are like two peas in a pod? :-/

And yeah, Rochelle killed me with that one. But then, she is one of the funniest people on HP, so, ... what else should we expect, eh?

renoelle on March 19, 2010:

Love Rochelle's comment about Shakespeare! I must agree with "the Bee" though, I missed more than my share of your hackneyed phrases. Thanks for making it crystal clear for us - really quite as plain as the nose on your face once you've had the obvious truth pointed out.

:D

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 19, 2010:

ROFL... Yeah, he did, didn't he? LOL. That is so funny. I'm going to use that somehow, you watch. :D

Rochelle Frank from California Gold Country on March 19, 2010:

I'm glad you wrote this. I was going to, but you did it better. I'm reminded of the teenager who, after seeing a production of Hamlet, said he didn't understand why everyone thought Shakespeare was such a good writer-- because he used so many cliches.

Shadesbreath (author) from California on March 19, 2010:

lawl @ Zsuszy. I see what you did there. :D (Thanks for the Twitter, btw. I keep telling myself I will join that thing, but I never do. Maybe if I wait long enough, it go out of style and no one will know I wasn't on board. I'll catch the next train.

Austinstar - Yes, I'm not surprised to hear cliches made it on a list of that sort; I'm glad to know you are making that point too. It's hard to read online these days things are so riddled with old, beat to death language. I mean, it's hard enough to find ANY language that you haven't seen before if you read a lot, you know? (And get crackin' on that novel already!... I'm actually debating whether or not I want to do a little pep-rally, sort of pseudo-blog on the forums here this summer while I write the first draft on my latest novel project. Seems like the right thing to do, but not sure if I want to commit to adding that to my plate.) Anyway, thanks for stopping by.

Lela from Somewhere near the heart of Texas on March 19, 2010:

Surprise! This is rule number 1 in my hub - How to use the 5 W's of Communication to Write Anything.

But you have made the rule easy to understand for those who can't seem to think, much less outside of a box or a radio talk show (ditto heads).

I still need to get that first novel done, darn it.

Zsuzsy Bee from Ontario/Canada on March 19, 2010:

Shadesbreath this one's for the books. You sure went the whole nine yards with this hub. One might believe that using a cliché or two would get the point across faster but its easy as pie to over use them too. I sure got egg on my face when even after reading your hub twice I only found 6 of your hidden ones even though they should have been plain as a rainy Tuesday.

Love the hub, thanks for the great tips here I must remember to steer clear of them in the future.

hope everything's hunky dory with you and yours

Zsuzsy :)

(I twittered your great hub)