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How to write a good article review: avoid clichés

When writing for any type of academic assignment, there are many bad habits one must avoid giving in to. One of the worst habits many student writers have is using clichés and trite phrases. For quality academic writing, clichés and other trite phrases should be avoided.

What are clichés?

Clichés are idiomatic phrases, often born from colorful expressions which, at some point in time, were creative and evocative. However, their overuse has rendered them almost meaningless. When first used, the comparisons, similes, metaphors, and unique combinations of adjectives and descriptors used to form well-known clichés were meaningful and added interest to the writing they were used in. Once a phrase has been used over and over again, however, it loses its vividness.

Why are clichés bad?

Clichés make your writing boring. They also indicate a laziness in your writing, whether or not they’re intentional.

What should I use instead?

You have two choices: replace the cliché with words that mean the same thing in a simple, straightforward way, or create a new, unique description.

What are some clichés I should avoid?

Here are some common clichés you should avoid, along with their meanings:

  • Rear its head: became apparent, enters the story
  • Packed in like sardines: tightly packed
  • Sneaking suspicion: a suspicion
  • Better late than never: something that happened after it was optimal
  • One fell swoop: all at once
  • A bolt from the blue: something unexpected
  • Takes its toll: has unavoidable consequences
  • Two peas in a pod: two things that are very similar
  • Few and far between: few, rare
  • Leave no stone unturned: search everywhere
  • Crystal clear: very clear
  • The straw that broke the camel’s back, or the last straw: an event which sets off a chain of other events
  • Swept under the rug: hidden, concealed or ignored
  • Runs a tight ship: is conscientious or strict
  • The pen is mightier than the sword: words are often more effective than force
  • The bottom line: the point
  • Beyond a shadow of a doubt: doubtless
  • Take the bull by the horns: take charge

By avoiding the use of clichés, you’ll revitalize your writing. You’ll be better able to capture and keep your reader’s interest, and you’ll also challenge yourself to create more authentic and expressive creative writing pieces. While you may have difficulty avoiding clichés that you are in the habit of writing at first, going back and editing them out will soon break the habit.