When writing a manuscript it is important to have diversity in the language. To improve the quality of the text, avoid cliche sayings and stand out words or imagery too often.

Some cliches you may have come across are “red as a rose,” or “a web of their own design.” While the sayings are popular and recognizable to the reader (depending on the culture), their use takes away your chance to develop your own voice as an author. Instead try coming up with your own phrases as appropriate to your text. It is figurative language so let your imagination “run wild” (just kidding). For example I could have said something like “untie the bow from your imagination.”

I’m not completely anti-cliche. Cliches do have their place. In children’s literature, they can be formative in exposing young readers to figurative language and educating them in their cultural idioms. During my years in the classroom, I would point out these phrases to help my students understand a character’s meaning or feeling in early reader texts. cliches can also be useful if a narrator or character’s voice is cheeky or cheesy, making the use intentional and purposeful.

Each author strives for their own level of originality, so this is just something to look out for while cleaning your manuscript or doing a critical reading of another text. So the next time you want your character to have “almond eyes” or to “cry themselves to sleep,” try first for some other descriptions to develop your piece and your voice.