The science: why you shouldn’t use clichés

As writers, we wrestle with the “avoid using clichés” rule and expunge them from our minds. We are told they are a sign of lazy writing, and that we need to bring something new to the reader-table. They’re not engaging. They’re dull and make our readers passive.

Sometimes, we like to think that, maybe, in a super-special, rare, genius-stoked circumstance that we might be able to break that rule. And not only break it, but that it would go in the hall of fame of experimental, inspirational writing to be admired by all of the world. It would be the king of all clichés.

Well think again! I found this article, and this funky info-graphic throwing some SCIENCE in our faces. “It should also be noted that writing can hold a powerful influence over its readers. Today’s infographic informs us that storytellers have the power to “plant emotions, thoughts, and ideas into the brain of the listener.” But all of these mind-shaping tools can be completely disregarded if one chooses to insert a cliché into his or her writing. When you hear phrases like “love is blind” or “dumb blonde,” your brain skips over these ideas and simply accepts them as a collection of words. Clichés have become so familiar to us that the sensory responses they are supposed to evoke are often severely diluted.”

So feel free to break some rules, but know this, it may not be the best idea you’ve had. Who am I to deny science, eh?

So what are your thoughts about writing rules? 

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8 thoughts on “The science: why you shouldn’t use clichés

  1. Derek, you're brilliant! This reminds me of my favourite ever moment in a series of The Apprentice. When being interviewed one of the candidates was criticised for filling their CV with cliches. He was asked if he could describe himself without using cliches."Yes, of course I can.""Go on then.""Right… with me you get exactly what it says on the tin."

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