Over at the Teen’s Workshops, we are in the process of introducing a few revision strategies that will really polish up any poem. One aspect of unfinished poems that we’re looking at is the cliché.
A cliché is a term we’re all familiar with. By definition it is an overused phrase or term that when written or uttered, emits redundancy and a loss of it’s meaning. It’s apparent that the writer was not the first to coin the phrase. Some examples in poetry would follow along the lines of “Roses are red, violets are blue” or “Only time will tell”
An easy way to identify a cliché is to simply read aloud what you’ve written. Have you heard that phrase before? If so, it’s time to change it up a bit.
To avoid using a cliché think about what you’re trying to say with the cliché. For example “only time will tell” lays out the thought that a length of time is required to reveal the truth. Instead of saying “only time will tell” think about other things that represent the passing of time. Maybe red magic marker X’s on a calendar, the changing phases of the moon in the night sky, or even weekly pay checks. Now, to imply “only time will tell” without putting those words to paper, try creating a phrase out of one of your newfound examples. “The Red X’s of the Calendar’s December page/give no hints towards this holiday’s gifts”
It’s as easy as that! You just made your own saying, and your own way of conveying meaning. We hope to see you at all at Week Two’s workshops, and keep this tip in mind!
Fall 2014 Undergraduate Intern