We've all heard them, seen them in used in television, movies and advertising, or read them in books. The dreaded cliché. People use them all the time while talking. It's as natural for some as talking with your hands (which I'm totally guilty of—never stand too close when I get going—you could lose an eye. LOL) They also tend to be a regional thing. I'm from the South . . . we spout cliches here like well—like water off a duck's back.
There's a natural rhythm and familiarity to the cliché. They can be a comforting turn of phrase which takes us to a special place and time. Or reminds us of a particular friend who always used those particular word(s). In writing using cliches can be great as long as we don't overuse them. Too many and the reader will start rolling their eyes to the back of their heads.
Still they can add a nuance or flavor to the story that might not otherwise be there. Like adding an accent to the dialect, the cliché can change the ordinary to the extraordinary. Here are a few examples of some cliches I'm sure you've heard before.
Avoid it like the plague
Deader than a doornail
Grab a tiger by the tail
If these walls could talk
The pot calling the kettle black
Think outside the box
Thick as thieves
Banging your head against a brick wall
All dressed up and nowhere to go
Plenty of fish in the sea
Every dog has its day
He/she was like a kid in a candy store
Back to the salt mines
The best thing since sliced bread
Crying all the way to the bank
A rose by any other name would smell as sweet
Absence makes the heart grow fonder
These are a handful of cliches I know I've heard or read over the years. Sometimes they make a character unique and stand out in a crowd of same old, tired caricatures. But, and this caveat I'll give you for free—don't overuse them. Sprinkling a few of them throughout your story or conversation can be fun and light but too many and your creativity can be called into question, thinking you're using them as a crutch. (I've been guilty of having a few too many cliches running throughout my books and my critique partners call me on them every time.)
So, how do you feel about cliches in your stories? Do you love 'em or would you rather do without them altogether?
Why not add your own special cliches to the above list. Post them in the comment section for everybody to see and enjoy.