I almost called myself Daisy for this tip because I’m embarrassed to admit: I love clichés. They seem to go down like ice cream or cool water whichever you like best.
A cliché can be a word, a phrase, or an idea. Many clichés come from the Bible and Shakespeare’s writing. It’s called a cliché because it’s considered old, overused, hackneyed. All my writing teachers, whether in books or in classes, tell me clichés are not acceptable. Okay. I don’t want to use them all the time, or even hear them all the time. But, you have to admit; they make instant pictures in your mind and explain things that could take a lot more words to explain. Sometimes, they’re funny. Those are usually the ones that come from just plain folks, such as: busier than a one-armed paperhanger, slick as a whistle.
There are ways to get around the no clichés rule. For one, you may allow them to come from an appropriate character’s mouth. Jean used a cliché in my new novel, Clear Spring. In an email to her daughter, she says, “Forewarned is forearmed.” It means, if you know what’s coming, you might be able to protect yourself.
Other ways to use them is in casual writing such as emails and personal memoir…blogs, too, depending on the blog. A cliché may be useful as a launching pad by changing the words, but keeping the idea.
In English, we have something called idiom. I think of idiom as a certain way of conveying an idea. Don’t we usually say soldiers and sailors, or apples and oranges? If you switch them around, it’s going to interrupt your reader for a tick. You don’t want to do that if you can help it. Idiom and clichés are so much alike that I can’t tell the difference, but on www.mavenrandomhouse.com, The Maven says, “Words and phrases (idiom and cliché) become popular for a reason, and judicious use of them should not be entirely discouraged.” There. That takes a load off. Does it float your boat at all?