A cliché is an expression that was once clever but has lost its original impact through overuse. Clichés are sprinkled liberally into every conversation, letter, political speech, and unfortunately in too many major literary efforts. They’re shortcuts to comprehension that we use when we are creatively lazy or mentally bankrupt. But the humor writer uses audacious and surprising interpretations of clichés to shock an audience into laughter.

Clichés are perfect launch vehicles for the neophyte humor writer because one-liners are the most salable humor today.

Frequently, a cliché is used to set the audience’s train of thought in motion—so the humorist can derail it. Since the ending phase of a cliché is predictable, the audience’s thoughts head in a predictable direction. The key word here is predictable. The easiest way to achieve surprise is to use a vehicle that takes the audience for a ride in a predictable direction—a direction you will change at the last possible moment. It’s last-second switch in the anticipated verbal conclusion. The result is surprise, which produces laughter, the payoff of all comedic effort. As you see shortly, there are a number of formulas for altering a cliché so that its final direction surprises the reader or listener.

Choose clichés with a purpose. You can avoid them or embrace them – gently

Though it’s advisable for writers  to avoid using clichés, occasionally there are exceptions. Incorporating a cliché that is associated with a certain time period, region, or product might be helpful rather than explaining or describing it. A writer may  use “the Big Apple” once rather than directly saying or repeating New York City. However, the use of cliché as a device in this instance should be as sparing as possible.

Another exception for writing clichés may be to demonstrate how a character is unoriginal, unimaginative, or even a fast talker. When creating a used car salesman character, a writer may include several clichés in his speech to establish a pattern of expression and certain, limiting character traits as well. It’s essential that writers carefully consider whether using a cliché truly benefits the work and the reader’s experience.

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“Linda has published sixteen books. She blogs about the publishing world, posts useful tips on the challenges a writer faces, including marketing and promoting your work, how to build your online platform, how to get reviews and how to self-publish. She has mentored many authors and edited their work.”