How to be an Original Writer and Avoid Clichés

Duncan Koerber, University Professor

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5 Lessons (16m)
    • 1. Introduction to Original Writing

      4:15
    • 2. Recognizing Clichés

      4:52
    • 3. So Why Do People Use Clichés?

      2:48
    • 4. When It's Okay to Use a Cliché

      2:24
    • 5. Being Original through Detail

      2:02

Project Description

Now that you know what a cliché is, and you’ve hopefully read some original writing in quality publications, it’s time for you to create original language. The following project is designed to help you develop your observational skills and produce original writing. Translating your observations into writing develops your sense of detail.

Sit in a public place (bus, library, coffee shop, a gym etc.) and write three short paragraphs:

Paragraph 1: describe the actions of a person or people in that place
Paragraph 2: describe how the place looks
Paragraph 3: describe the sounds you hear in that place

Notice everything. Bring the place to life. Of course, do not use any clichés.

Two additional restrictions: 1) do not use any forms of the verb to be (am, is, are, was, were, been, being, including contractions such as it’s for it is or I’m for I am), and 2) write only in the active voice (no passives). These restrictions make writing difficult, but in the process you’ll discover the level of detail required for good writing.

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