Be a cliche killer: Help B/R blacklist overused phrases
Clichés do to your writing what giant piles of lettuce and sprouts do to your sandwich: They make it clear the creation process involves filling up space with minimal effort rather than trying to create something unique and wonderful.
We need to get rid of clichés on Bleacher Report, and you can help by identifying the worst of them. We’re building a cliché blacklist and we want you to help us figure out which tired, overused phrases should be on it.
Clichés are the sign of a writer who isn’t trying very hard. Remember the controversy in February over an ESPN headline about Jeremy Lin that used the phrase “chink in the armor”? Here’s what Poynter’s Jason Fry wrote in an ESPN ombudsman post-mortem:
We note that the phrase that got ESPN in so much trouble is awfully shopworn and lazy. Whether they can be misinterpreted or not, clichés are signs of a writer or speaker on cruise control—which increases the chance of a crash.
Clichés signal to the reader that the writer, given a chance to say something, falls back on the familiar and easy. That reader would be wise not to expect anything incisive, insightful or original from that writer.
When I started writing this post, here was my first paragraph:
It is what it is, but at the end of the day, we need to avoid clichés like the plague.
But then it dawned on me that starting a post about avoiding clichés with a big pile of clichés is … a cliché. I thought I could do better. Maybe I did, but at least I tried. You probably haven’t read that first paragraph before.
I told you we need your help to minimize the clichés on B/R. You can do that by steering clear of them in your own writing, of course, but we’re also trying to create a blacklist of the most egregious clichés for Bleacher Report writers and editors to use as a guide.
So what are the worst clichés? What are the ones you can’t stop using? What are the ones that, if you read them one more time you’ll scream?! Or take a hostage, or some other cliché.
Leave your blacklist suggestions in the comments. They can be specific to sports or more general in nature. We’ll combine your suggestions with those of B/R’s copy editors to come up with a list that you’ll want to … give a wide berth.