How to Get Rid of Clichés in Your Writing

8 October 2014

It was a dark and stormy night. The unsuspecting college student racked her brain while the seconds ticked by. She felt like the world was falling down all around her. In less than six hours, her narrative essay was due for her Composition 123 class. She had ideas, but she wanted to write something fresh as daisies – a story that would get under her readers’ skins. She looked at what she’d written so far and realized that it was more clichéd than American apple pie.
If this scene reminds you of your own struggles with writing, you are in severe need of an anti-cliché remedy. Fortunately, clichéd writing doesn’t necessarily have to be the death of your essay. You can learn how to identify clichés in your writing and eliminate them by following a few simple steps.
Time to Identify: What is a Cliché?
The word cliché dates back to 1825, where it was used to describe a sound made when a printer’s press went over a typeset block called a “stereotype.” The stereotype made it possible to reuse the same words over and over again to save time in the printing process.
Like in the original usage of the word, clichés save people time and effort by using images, wording, and ideas that have been used many times over. Unfortunately, they also come across as boring, vapid, and as an attempt to word-count pad your essay. Some of the most rampant clichés in essay writing are:
The dictionary defines ________ as….
This essay will discuss…
From the beginning of time…
All in all…
My experiences broadened my horizons…
It hit me like a ton of bricks…
In this day and age…
You probably have heard or read these many times throughout your life. Perhaps you’ve actually written them once or twice. Don’t worry. Identifying clichés in your own writing is the first step towards turning your boring essays into engaging writing.
Review, Replace, Rewrite
By replacing worn out phrases with ones that are uniquely yours, your writing will be more fun to read and your teachers will see you as a more mature writer. Just keep in mind the Three Rs of eliminating clichés: Review, Replace, and Rewrite. If you follow these steps for every essay you write, your writing will always have that personal flair that can never be copied.
For example, review the opening paragraph one more time.
It was a dark and stormy night. The unsuspecting college student racked her brain while the seconds ticked by. She felt like the world was falling down all around her. In less than six hours, her narrative essay was due for her Composition 123 class. She had ideas, but she wanted to write something fresh as daisies – a story that would get under her readers’ skins. She looked at what she’d written so far and realized that it was more clichéd than American apple pie.
Are there any phrases that stick out to as being clichéd? Replace the rehashed language and ideas with creative metaphors and clear nouns and verbs. Then, rewrite this paragraph so that it sounds more original – more uniquely “you.”
It was another stressful Sunday night cram session. Cheri felt sweat underneath her watch as ts incessant tick-tick-tick buried her deeper in despair. In less than six hours, her narrative essay was due for her Composition 123 class. She had ideas, but she wanted to write something exotic and explosive – a story that would grip her readers’ minds and whisper her words long after they put it down.
A Word of Warning: Write Clear and Hard
The rewritten paragraph is more interesting to read, and sounds more mature. Because all the overused ideas were replaced, the paragraph is vibrant and evocative. Still, make sure that your writing doesn’t go too far in its attempt to be original. Using a thesaurus to come up with “fancy” words often reads like just that. In addition, abstract metaphors and similes can confuse readers and bog your writing down.
The best advice? Hemingway said, “Write clear and hard about what hurts.” When writing your essays, be clear in your language and use images that are unique to your experience. That way, your essays don’t have to be quite so painfully boring to read. With a little creative flair and an arsenal of new ideas, you’ll be able to conquer even the driest college essay prompt in your own unique style.

Useful samples and examples: https://essays.io/resume-examples-samples/

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