We’ve all seen it or done it. When you’re writing, it’s easy to fall back on clichés because they are a sort of universal short-hand. Use one and your reader instantly knows what you are trying to convey.
But clichés can also have the effect of making the writing seem stunted and, well, cliché.
One of my editors called me on the use of:
“He let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding.”
She urged me to find a more original way to express that sense of anticipation and nervousness, which I did, and the story was stronger for it.
But I’ll be damned if I didn’t find it in the next story I was working on, too.
So my questions for today: As a writer, what are the clichés you find yourself using over and over again, even if you know you shouldn’t? And are clichés ever justified?
As a reader, which ones drive you nuts?