Human beings employ cliches such as the one in the title as a quick, easy way to communicate. There’s nothing artsy about it, but if you’re telling a scary story when you’re out camping, you are going for quick communication of ideas. In that case, you want to have all the focus on the plot and nothing else.
That is sort of the way us humans work in our day to day lives. If you have a huge event that you want to get straight to and convey, you will probably use several cliches while explaining it. The burglar didn’t enter the house with a knife strapped on his leg, ammo in his pocket, holding a revolver in one hand and a semi-automatic in the other; he was armed to the teeth. If you just want to explain that your sister just had a traumatic experience, you probably don’t even know what the burglar was carrying anyway.
So, if this is true, why do people find too many cliches in their leisure reading so off-putting? Obviously, there are many people who like exciting plots and like to get straight to it. But cliches cannot truly immerse someone in an individual event. By their nature, they hide specific details. People most read leisure for…leisure. There’s something to be said for cheap thrills, but value also has it’s appeal.
Would you rather pay $15 for a great plot and rehashed phrases and themes or an entirely new adventure?
Also, try to avoid ironic uses of cliches and parts of cliches as titles, for example, “A Bird in the Hand“. It’s been done. I promise. Cliches don’t describe your book or article very well. “It was a Dark and Stormy Night” is also just awful. 🙂