Hi [FIRST NAME GOES HERE]- Nobody likes Yes Men, so let's get rid of them.

published9 months ago
1 min read

Hi Reader,

One of the most talked-about sessions from my travel writing workshop is the one where we excise the dreaded cliché.

Students lament: "I can never say 'hidden gems' again!" "I was by the ocean and heard 'crashing waves' - DOH! Can't say that!"

That session sticks with them, which means they become better writers.

Why do they get so riled up?

Probably because I make statements like these:

Clichés are the bane of a travel writer’s existence.
They’re easy.
They’re lazy.
Clichés are the Yes Men of writing. They tell you what you think you want to hear, but they don’t actually say anything.

I'm not alone in my disdain for overused phrases. In On Writing, Stephen King says they make "you look either lazy or ignorant."


Way back in the 1500s, Michel de Montaigne claimed: "It is always easier to draw on the storehouse of memory than to find something original to say."

And we know we've got a lot of clichés stored in our memory.

So how do you stop using them? How do you escape looking "either lazy or ignorant?" (Stephen Kind's words, not mine!)

The first step is to be aware of what you're writing. I should say, be aware of what you're editing. I'm a fan of dirty first drafts, otherwise known as getting the words out and cleaning them up later. When you do that, you're most likely going to have a few overused phrases. They're easy and they're, as de Montaigne said, in your storehouse of memory. You know them and they appear without effort.

As you're editing, pay attention to your word choice. Is that town really quaint? Do those waves really crash? Is that attraction really a hidden gem?

Once you recognize a cliché, take time to rewrite it so it puts a picture in your readers' minds. For example, instead of "snow-capped mountain," how about this:

The craggy summit clawed out of the snow banks like a drowning man fighting for the surface.

A bit more evocative, eh?

This month's live training is all about these dreaded turns of phrase. If you want to avoid clichés like the plague, sign up and you, too, will be painting real pictures instead of writing words that say nothing. It's March 28 at 1pm CST and, as always, only $9.

Until next week...

Happy Writing!

Theresa L. Goodrich

p.s. Sign up here for the live training on Tuesday, March 28 at 1pm CST.

p.p.s. If you're in the travel niche, I'm offering an AMAZING deal. 75% off Travel Writing Mastery. Check it out here.

Don't want these quick tips? Click here.

Theresa L. Goodrich

Theresa L. Goodrich is the force behind thelocaltourist.com, a site dedicated to telling in-depth stories of magnificent, quirky, and unique places. Theresa is an Emmy-winning author who is slightly obsessed with road trips, camping, and history. She’s turned these passions into the Two Lane Gems book series, first-person travelogues highlighting the beauty and diversity of the U.S.A. She's also a contributor and publisher of Midwest Road Trip Adventures, 2nd Edition and Midwest State Park Adventures. She’s the author of Living Landmarks of Chicago, Planning Your Perfect Road Trip, and the Alex Paige cozy mystery series. She's spoken across the country at the Travel and Adventure Show and the Chicago Auto Show, mentored at Bloghouse, and leads the Midwest Travel Network's Writing Workshop. She’s driven, often literally, to inspire you to get off the interstates and explore the towns and communities that make this country a constant and welcome surprise.

Read more from Theresa L. Goodrich