How to be an Original Writer and Avoid Clichés

Duncan Koerber, University Professor

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5 Videos (16m)
    • Introduction to Original Writing

      4:15
    • Recognizing Clichés

      4:52
    • So Why Do People Use Clichés?

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

      2:24
    • Being Original through Detail

      2:02

About This Class

Ever worry that your sentences are not unique? Literary and cultural influence is so strong that many writers turn to clichés as substitutes for original meaning that entices readers.

In this mini-course, you'll learn just what a sentence-level writing cliché is and why it's such a problem, from the author of Clear, Precise, Direct: Strategies for Writing (Oxford University Press, 2015). 

Being an original writer is not as hard as you may think. In this course I argue that recognizing clichés in your culture and publications is a great first step. Then you must remove them from your writing like removing weeds from your lawn. I also briefly discuss how to add real-life detail. 

43 of 47 students recommendSee All

Good advice on how to use, or more often, refrain from using cliches in writing to make it more interesting and seem fresher.
Not quite what I thought it was - glad I listened to it. I thought it was going to be about cliche themes - but he looked at phrases, sayings, and words - which I have previously never even considered. Very happy I listened to this.
Good information. Well presented and organized.

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Duncan Koerber

University Professor

Dr. Duncan Koerber has taught writing and communications courses for the past 10 years at six Canadian universities to thousands of students.

Currently a full-time assistant professor at Brock University in Ontario, Canada, Duncan Koerber worked for nearly 10 years in reporting and editing roles for the London Free Press, the Mississauga News, and the University of Toronto Medium. He has freelanced for magazines and newspapers, including the Toronto Star.

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