How to be an Original Writer and Avoid Clichés

Duncan Koerber, University Professor

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5 Videos (16m)
    • Introduction to Original Writing

    • Recognizing Clichés

    • So Why Do People Use Clichés?

    • When It's Okay to Use a Cliché

    • Being Original through Detail


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. 

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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 Ryerson University in Toronto, 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.

Oxford University Press recently published his writing textbook, Clear, Precise, Direct: Strategies for Writing (2015). Available on Amazon, the book considers the seven most common errors (interfering factors) in writing and how to improve them (enhancing factors). His second book, Crisis Communication in Canada, is in the revision process for University of Toronto Press.

Duncan Koerber has been a successful freelance editor, reaching the top 0.01% of editors on Elance. Now, his freelance editing and proofreading agency on Upwork is in the "top rated" category.

Duncan Koerber has a bachelor of arts degree in English, Professional Writing, and Political Science from the University of Toronto (2001), a master of arts degree in Journalism from the University of Western Ontario (2003), and a Ph.D. in Communication and Culture from York University and Ryerson University (2009).

His academic writing, which focuses on media and journalism history, writing pedagogy, and public relations crisis communication, has been published in the Canadian Journal of Communication, the Journal of Canadian Studies, Journalism History, Media History, Composition Studies, Canadian Journal of Media Studies, and Sport History Review.