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Banish Your Clichés They Say

by Sharon J. Wishnow

Writing advice is boundless. You could say you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting some on the Internet or with a group of writers.

I love a good cliché – they are so easy to write – like water off a duck’s back. Cliches convey instant meaning.

Yeah, I know…they make your writing dull. Writers need to seek fresh images that convey an authorial and character-driven voice. Got it!

As I’ve plotted and plodded through my latest work in progress, I’ve been creative, thinking outside the box, and thinking like my characters.

I’ve also taken notice of expressions and descriptions from other authors. I keep a notebook of fresh ideas for inspiration.

However, when does an idea, an analogy, a metaphor, an expression, turn the corner from fresh to cliché? Only the writing muses can say for certain. Or maybe TikTok, Yet, I think I’ve found one, the idea that has been popping up like pimples in books over the past few years.

Now, in full disclosure, I’m a reader, but I’m not a great reader in the sense I devour hundreds of books a year. But one image continues to present itself. Every writer thinks she or he is so clever. They may have the object on a shelf and think - yes... They Google the term, check the origin, double check the spelling, and nod with a literary grin.

The matryoshka aka, the Russian nesting doll. (see crazy ad in opening of this blog)

If you don’t know what this is, I’ll leave the fun of the research for you. They are so popular you can wear the motif and even buy an expensive, creepy, human-sized version.

What does it represent in stories?

  • Layers of a personality

  • The bond of a family

  • Any ensemble relationship

  • Layers of problems

  • Riddles

  • Mystery

  • Vintage or boring toys…

It’s your metaphor clever writer – make it good.

I remember having one as a child, and I have one today. As I tapped out this article, there she was collecting cobwebs on a high shelf. My poor doll is missing some sisters – now that’s a new metaphor.

What does this mean? For me, it may be what is known as the frequency illusion or to be smarty pants about it, the Baader-Meinhof effect. A condition where you see something once and then you "notice" it everywhere. I've just introduced the idea of Russian dolls in this article. You'll see them everywhere now - you're welcome. But please, come up with a new metaphor for layers - like Ogres and onions or something.

Sharon J. Wishnow -
Entrepreneur, Speaker & Author
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