Tuesday, November 29, 2016

I'm reaching out to you to say you were always there for me and thanks so much!

To simplify and freshen up your writing, consider becoming more aware of and then revising away from stock phrases and clichés.

Now, cliché is almost as much an epithet as plagiarism, with the happy difference that you won't get in trouble for writing clichés .  Stock phrase is less judgmental in my opinion, but the idea is the same:  a cliché or stock phrase is a common phrase, expression, or possibly even word that is automatically defaulted to without consideration for whether it's appropriate to the writing situation.

Here are some examples:

  • In today's society.

  • You were always there for me.

  • Lovingly prepared food.

  • I reached out to him to see if . . .

  • Taste sensation.

  • I'm not going to lie to you.

  • In any way, shape, or form.

  • It was well below zero when we took the Christmas gifts to the poor family.  After seeing the look on their faces, I didn't feel so cold anymore.

When you write something that includes ready-made phrases or the writing comes too easily and sounds like something you've read before, take notice.  Experiment with one of the following, or another method of your own:

Say it more simply.  Rather than She was always there for me try She was loyal.  That will require more explanation, but so did the cliché.

Say it in more accurate detail.  Clichés sometimes cut off thought.  We say X is Y cliché and rumble along to the next idea.  Take the time to explain what a taste sensation is like in the case of the particular food you're describing.
Should we never use stock phrases and clichés?  Should we never eat chips and drink soda?  You can decide those questions for yourself, but I invite you to be more mindful of your writing choices, and make choices that will strengthen your thinking and your writing.


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