This will be a short one because there isn’t much to say on the subject. In a nutshell, to use a cliché, avoid using clichés.
You know how clichés become clichés? Through use. When you’ve read a dozen haunted house novels that start with a family moving into a new house in a new town, you’re reading a cliché, because so many haunted house stories start that way. And we all do it; my novel THE THIRD FLOOR starts with a family moving into a new house in a new town. But at the end of the day, to use a cliché, we really should strive to be better.
And when you think about it, there’s no need for clichés when you can say the exact same thing with a different words and turn the cliché “on its head”, to use a cliché.
I know sometimes it feels like an uphill battle, and you think if it ain’t broke don’t fix it, but two wrongs don’t make a right and, hey, CDM, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
I’m not saying I’ll never use another cliché. Phrases and story tropes become clichés because they work so damn well. But can we all agree, when we come across them in our writing, to at least try to find a different set of words to say the same thing?
It ain’t rocket science.
(thanks to skillsyouneed.com for the excellent list of clichés in writing)