The deffinition of cliche is:
1. a trite, stereotyped expression
2. a trite or hackneyed plot or character development
3. Anything that has become trite or commonplace through overuse
If it has been heard frequently in conversation, newscast, or advertising, it is probably a cliche or on its way to become one.
Here is a small sampling of cliche phrases:
1. Avoid it like the plague
2. The pot calling the kettle black
3. Like a kid in a candy store
4. Think outside the box
5. American as apple pie
6. Tiger by the tail
7. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush
8. Thick as thieves
9. Every dog has his day
10. Tip of the iceberg
11. Smile like a Chesire cat
12. Uphill battle
13. Never say never
14. Laughter is the best medicine
15. Two wrongs don't make a right
16. In a nutshell
17. It's not rocket science
18. At the end of the day
19. Wrap your head around it
20. Time will tell
Yet fiction writers need to look beyond trite phrases and examine their characters and plots for cliche. An example of cliche in a murder mystery plot is when the murderer is the least likely character. We have all seen this used in plots. It becomes a problem when it is no longer a surprise.
Examples of cliche characterization is the dumb blonde or the evil stepmother. A writer must remember the goal is to create fresh stories that entertain. A writer must be certain characters do not fall into categories that have been seen before and hold no surprises. Cliched characters will bore the reader and be rejected by an agent or editor. If a writer does use cliched characters he must be certain he uses a new angle on the old and expected, such as the stepmother who saves the day.
As a new writer, I carefully examined my characters and revised traits that seemed cliche. It was a lesson learned.