One of the venial sins of writers is overuse of cliché. A cliché is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work that has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, rendering it a stereotype, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. (Wikipedia)
I found a website that lists commonly used clichés: http://suspense.net/whitefish/cliche.htm
It doesn’t hurt to review them to see how many have become a part of your bag of tricks. It’s easy to revert to clichés because, for the most part, they make a point. They are so common we don’t even notice them in everyday usage.
There are times when a cliché may be appropriate. If you are writing dialogue, you want your characters to sound natural. That’s why it’s okay to use contractions, slang, fragments and the like. In everyday conversation, cliché is expected.
I’ve thrown in a couple of phrases in this post that are blatant clichés, and a few that are on the way to becoming overused. See if you recognize them. What I’d like to challenge you to do in response to this brief post is to take a short poem or a paragraph of prose that you have written and examine it for cliché. Perhaps you’d like to share your findings in the comment section. Is there another, unique way you can make your point? Alrighty then…let’s get it on!