Part of NaNoWriMo is writing quickly. You’re pushing towards a word count every day and you simply don’t have time to agonise over every word. You have an image in your head that you’re trying to describe and you just want to get your readers to see that same image. You’re not paying attention and your minds starts to take mental shortcuts.
We’re talking about the type of shortcuts that get used all the time in speech. Someone asks, “How are you feeling today?” and you don’t want to give them a long list of your symptoms, you just say, “I’m sick as a dog!”
Or maybe you’re feeling much better and you want to express that idea quickly. You might say, “I’m right as rain!”
These verbal shortcuts are cliches. A lot of the time they serve a valuable purpose. They can convey complex ideas with very few words and because they’re so common everyone knows what you’re talking about. That’s a really handy thing when you’re talking to someone
It’s bad when you write in cliches. Readers want you to transport them into your fictional, NaNoWriMo world. If you use the same tired cliches that they use everyday then it feels boring. You need to take care to avoid cliches in your writing. The problem is, we’re all so used to cliches that sometimes we don’t even recognise them when they’re right in front of us.
Here is a useful online dictionary of cliches. If you’re worried that you are unwittingly using cliches then you can use this as a tool to check if it really is a cliche or not.
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