Anyone who tried writing a paper knows how important it is to stay original, inventive, and stay out of clichés of all sorts, and how difficult it really is. What is it about clichés that have a destructive impact on one’s writing and is there anything that can be done about it? Let us find out.
Are They Really so Bad?
Imagine that you are in charge of selecting the best papers from a number of works for, say, a competition or a study program. Among the hundreds of motivational letters with self-representations, you need to choose the most decent ones, whose formulations speak for themselves and prove that these people deserve the prize. Which criteria would you use to sort out the weaker works and praise the stronger ones?
The one thing that is certain here is that original ideas and authentic writing have much higher chances to succeed with any committee. Cliché phrases reveal the person’s inability to personalize their statement, make it unique and influential. Thus, you can see that clichés can really spoil the first impression about anyone, which is why they should not be tolerated in any kind of writing.
Cliché: The definition
Cliché refers to a phrase, expression or idiom that has been used multiple times in the same context and thus sounds repetitive and boring. Clichés can refer to actions and situations as well, but in language, they are much more noticeable and irritating. The reason why clichés are still being used in all languages and parts of the world is that they do not need any explanation and everyone knows their meaning. However, in order to impress the audience with fresh ideas, it is advisory to avoid clichés and create new forms of expression instead.
Reasons to Avoid
While in certain life situations it is acceptable to use clichés, they are never useful in academic writing of any kind. In case you are not fully convinced that clichés are bad for your papers, here are some arguments for you to consider:
- Clichés signal about your inability to invent new phrases and build the sentences in your own, unique way;
- They make your paper flat and mediocre, which is not how you would like your work to be defined;
- Clichés lower the readers’ interest in your work. As soon as a person reads a cliché phrase, it is almost impossible to keep them focused on the piece further;
- Clichés distract from the information. They are absolutely needless if you have some facts and quotes present in the text.
As you can see, clichés are never a good contribution to your work, which is why it is important to stay out of them.
Signs of Using Cliché Expressions
You may not realize that you use clichés in your academic papers, but your teachers’ comments may help you to spot the problem. If you often get such remarks as “unclear”, “too vague”, “not specific enough”, etc. then you definitely need to pay attention to this issue. To check your paper for clichés, read it and stop after every sentence. Ensure that every sentence of the paragraph expresses a strong idea or serves to support the paragraph’s idea. Check if the formulation is clear, specific, and contains no extra-long phrases that just take up space. You should pay special attention to your introduction and conclusion because the common mistake of every writer is to open and close the paper with a cliché phrase or quote. Another sign of using clichés is if after reading your paper you have a feeling that you have heard this somewhere before. If you get such vibes from your own writing, it is definitely a signal that calls for instant change. Hurry up to take all the possible measures to fix the situation!
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How to Eliminate Clichés
In case you have detected clichés in your writing, you need to do something about it. It may be too late to correct your past works, but it is never too late to elaborate on your writing style and approach so that your future works would be more original. Here is what you can do to avoid clichés in your writing:
- Apply to brainstorm. Any cliché that you want to use can be replaced with an original phrase; you just need to find it in the pool of associations and related concepts.
- Get to the point. Define the key argument that stands behind the cliché and says it straight!
- Use a simple language. While clichés are often used in an attempt to make the text sound more sophisticated, it can be useful to keep the writing clear and simple.
- Be specific. Do not use vague general phrases and name specific information instead.
- Read the paper out loud. Make sure that nothing sounds stiff and boring.
The very first problem with clichés is that they are ineffective. You may find them cute, convincing, familiar, good sounding, but the thing is that eventually, they will fail to deliver the message to the audience. This is so because the readers stop paying attention to your words right after you use a cliché phrase. This is especially dangerous for creative kinds of writing that call for your individuality and uniqueness. In such papers, you should sound fresh, real, and engaging, and to achieve this, you might need to put extra efforts in your writing. Thus, do not be lazy and use your unique personality to create new contexts and expressions.
Cliché is basically repeating what someone has said before, so if you put it this way, you will see how useless it really is. You do not want to sound like someone else, you want to have your original style and tone, so the one thing you should never do is insert the well-known phrases in your paper. Look for new forms, invent them, rethink the old forms, but never use the ready templates to express any of your ideas.
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