Do you ever cringe when you see a story that begins “on a dark and stormy night“?
That’s because it’s a cliché. Clichés are phrases so overused they’re considered trite and unoriginal
Clichés and redundancies in your manuscript are a sign that you may need to work on making your writing a little more original.
Redundancies are words that could be omitted because they repeat what has already been expressed or conveyed in the sentence.
The problem is that it’s not always easy to spot clichés or redundancies in our own work. I have good news though, the AutoCrit can do it for you!
AutoCrit highlights those phrases and shows you the sections of text where you used them, so you can quickly decide which words and phrases you want to change or delete and which you may want to keep. For redundancies, deleting the redundant word usually solves the problem. For example: “He reversed the car back” can be simplified to “He reversed the car.”
Clichés are a tad trickier to replace. Here are a couple of my favorite strategies:
Let your characters be your guide: Replace a cliché with a phrase that is unique to your character. For instance, say you have a character who is a chef; instead of saying that she’s as “nervous as a cat on a hot tin roof,” say that she’s as “nervous as the day she threw her first dinner party.”
Use settings or situations as inspiration: Align your phrases with the scene itself. For example, say you have a character who is about to play quarterback in the big game; instead of writing, “Simon’s heart was racing,” say “Simon’s heart thundered in time with the drum corp marching its way across the field.”
Be specific: Clichés are often generalizations, so a quick way to revise them is simply to be more specific. For instance, instead of writing, “Penelope woke in the middle of the night…” say, “Penelope woke at 3 a.m.”
Eliminating those clichés and redundancies will make your story feel fresher and more original. So go on—show your manuscript some love.