By Natalie Bright

A worn-out and overused expression to convey a popular thought or idea.

I’ve blogged about cliché phrases before but I just love using them in new and interesting ways. It’s a fun exercise in word usage and can give your brain a real work out.

The cliché I wanted to use in my picture book manuscript was this:

If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.

Richard Bach

The sentence I used in my story about a sister who gives something of great value to her little brother became this:

Now and then you might find something and keep it, or you can let somebody else love it more.

Types of Cliché

  • Piece of advice or proverb: Quit while you’re ahead.
  • An expression that does not relate to the literal meaning of the word: I am over the moon. (called an idiom)
  • Take a well-known term associated with a character or famous person and make that catchphrase part of your own character: Yabba-dabba-do – Fred Flinstone.
  • Compare one thing with another (simile): He drinks like a fish.
  • Create a metaphor which is a comparison in which one thing is said to be another: She’s a walking dictionary.

More Examples

The ball is in your court.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Think outside the box.

It’s raining cats and dogs.

This is the first day of the rest of your life.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

Bad to the bone.

He’s one in a million.

Like a duck out of water.

The general rule is to avoid cliché phrases like the plague, but as a creative writer you can turn those old, worn out sayings into something fresh and unique. Make it your own and add some color to your stories. Have fun!



One thought on “Cliché

  1. Reading this a little later, but I’ve wanted to address this issue too. Really good ideas for using old cliches. I recently read a book where cliches were used throughout. At first I questioned that usage, but then the reality struck me. The story was a fictionalized version of true event and characters in the 1960s. I remember the cliche’s of that era, the character’s spoke them in dialog, and the narration of the character telling the story did too. Simile and metaphor phrases should be as original and as inventive as one can write them. Spinning and altering an older cliche is great, but sometimes ……. it has us all winking and blinking like a toad in a hail storm.

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