Archive for December, 2013

Writing a drama? Cliches are endlessly useful. They set period and place and help with characterisation. Journalist?  Cliches offer a kind of shorthand for communication with your readers. For example, all bets are off as we run the idea up the flagpole and see whether the cat salutes!

But, for fiction and, even more especially, poetry, cliches are ill-advised. All of us have used cliches so frequently, they cease to surprise us – however apt – and we no longer respond to them. As poets are seeking to communicate with us through surprising imagery, this hardly helps. So, try this:

  1. Go to http://clichesite.com  and study 2100+ cliches listed there
  2. List ones that you use over-much and endeavour to avoid them in future.
  3. Then choose ten of these similes –

1)    as blue as a

2)    as rough as a

3)    as lonely as a

4)    as tall as a

5)    as talkative as

6)    as eager as a

7)    crying like a

8)    praying like

9)    reliable as

10)as expensive as

11)as mad as

12)milling around like

13)common as

14)regular  as

15)as pretty as

16)as reluctant as

17)as smooth as

18)as quick as

19)running like a

20)creeping like a

21)as loud as a

22)as nervous as a

23)as green as

24)as angular as

25)as mellow as

26)as sure as

27)shaking like a

28)as rich as

29)as perky as

30)growing like a

Finish the sentence stems in your own way


Mix up word stem and image and note the effect. Eg as angular as custard.

If nothing else, this exercise will make you sensitive as a writer to inclusion of cliches!

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