Climbing Cliché Mountain
“Avoid cliché” – good advice, of course, advice you get early as a writer and never lose. But if the advice remains, the reasons for it can get lost, particularly as there’s more than one type of cliché, and more than one way it can harm writers and readers.
Here, in roughly ascending order of iniquity, are five types of cliché. I sometimes shudder at them as a reader, but more often as a writer – I’m not immune to them, nobody is, and it’s in a spirit of confession not superiority that I’m writing this.
BOILERPLATE: What Maura Johnston, in a Twitter conversation that inspired this piece, called the “lettuce of writing”. Flavourless shreds of words, dotted here and there around a piece just because they came to mind so easily. Look, there was one just now – “here and there” is doing no work in that sentence at all, it just emerged as I wrote.
I wrote this on my “business” blog but I guess it might find readers here too - though if you’re not lucky enough to read biz-prose on a regular basis then you’ll have to take my word for it that the problem is considerably worse in that field.