Back to Back Issues Page
Twist a cliché: Editor's Notes #352
November 10, 2021

It is a cliche that most cliches are true,
but then like most cliches, that cliche is untrue.

—Stephen Fry

In this issue:

1. Twist a cliché
2. Tickled my funny bone
3. Interesting Web site with a writing prompt

1.Twist a cliché
If you’ve been paying attention in any writing class, you’ve probably been told to avoid clichés like the plague. (Oops! Did you catch the cliché in the opening sentence?)

A cliché is a trite or overused expression or idea, and I’m going to tell you how to make use of clichés by twisting them. Twisted clichés light up my reading. The fresh take on something old brings on a smile and a deepened respect for the author who put in the effort to make me take a second look.

First, recognize a cliché. Clichés are so familiar that they pop into our heads with no effort at all. When a string of words flow without a thought, you may have a cliché, so take a second look. If you have seen those words in that order before, seriously consider either completely rewording what you want to say, or twist the cliché.

Twisting involves keeping some familiar aspect of the cliché while changing at least one element of it. Here are some examples:
  • pretty as a picture => pretty as a Valentine
  • good as gold => good as turkey with stuffing
  • survival of the fittest => survival of the hungriest

The best part of the cliché to keep is the beginning, and the best part to twist is the end. The surprise at the end gives the dry old overworked cliché new power.

The twist in a cliché should enhance the writing beyond being simply new. The second example above could work well in a story with a Thanksgiving celebration in it. The last one in the list switches the meaning of the original thought making not only the wording, but also the whole thought, a pleasing surprise.

With attention to meanings and word placement, you can move from avoiding clichés like the plague to welcoming them like a new sense of power.

2.Tickled my funny bone
Enjoy Life! It has an Expiration Date!

3. Interesting Web site with a writing prompt
Today the Interesting Web site has examples of twisted clichés AND a list of clichés for you to twist just for fun. Enjoy. (And send me your twisted clichés when you are done. I’d love to see your work.)

Join Writer's Helper Facebook page at
Follow me on Twitter @AudreytheEditor

Link on LinkedIn (Email me first so I know how you know me.)

If you know a writer who would appreciate receiving Editor's Notes, forward this issue.

If someone has passed this on to you, you can get your own free subscription by signing up at

Back to Back Issues Page