300 Days of Better Writing

November 14, 2014

Change Cliches for Impact and Engagement

Filed under: WritingExcellence — preciseedit @ 8:41 am

Here are two premises about clichés:

  1. Clichés are bad. People will notice them and think you don’t have any new thoughts. This is bad impact.
  2. Original language is good. People will notice it and think you have a new perspective on the topic. This is good impact.

For really good impact, however, take a familiar cliché and modify it in a unique way. Of course, the modification must communicate a meaning relevant to your ideas. This will get the reader’s attention, make him think about the topic in a new way, and make you appear clever, knowledgeable, and interesting.

Three common ways to do this are to

  1. reverse words in the cliché, i.e., put them in a new order,
  2. replace one of the key words with a new word, and
  3. add additional information to the end.

Example cliché: “It’s the journey that matters, not the destination.”

Re-ordered words: “It’s the destination that matters, not the journey.”

Replaced words: “It’s the company that matters, not the destination.”

Replaced and re-ordered words: It’s the company that matters, not the journey.”

Additional information: “It’s the journey that matters, not the destination, unless you’re on your way to the bank.”


This is the strategy for day 245 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

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