I've been plagued with clichés buzzing around my head while I've been trying to write, but I'm holding out for my own fresh metaphors, similes and turns of phrase. Clichés might be accurate, but everyone has heard them so often that they have become meaningless. Maybe a heroine does 'go weak at the knees', but readers will no doubt forget her unless she does it in an original way. Notice that I haven't provided an alternative myself. Devising good ones isn't easy, but it's well worth making the effort to find your own figurative language.
    Open one of your favourite books, and you'll no doubt find that it's full of memorable descriptions. Here's an extract from Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn, which I think proves my point:

    "The unicorn lowered her head until her horn touched the lock of the harpy's cage. The door did not swing open, and the iron bars did not thaw into starlight. But the harpy lifted her wings, and the four sides of the cage fell slowly away and down, like the petals of some great flower waking at night. And out of the wreckage the harpy bloomed, terrible and free, screaming, her hair swinging like a sword. The moon withered and fled."

    The best use for a cliché is as the starting point for a piece of writing. Take the saying 'green with envy'. It's so familiar that you barely register it, but you could look at the phrase's origins and/or accuracy for a feature. Do people really take on a green tinge? For fiction or poetry, you could think about who is envious and of what. Perhaps an alien might turn grass green, or maybe two protagonists are 'green' and 'envy'. Even the most overused phrase can lead your imagination along a huge variety of paths, from the sensible to the surreal, if you stop and think about what it is actually saying.
    Another cliché is 'tempus fugit', and that's more accurate than is comfortable. It's already the middle of January and I have a few things to look out for. 'The Pitch' and my article on 'Life after Publication' will appear on Writing Short Fiction on 14th January along with advice and fiction from a number of other prizewinning authors. I'll also have tweet length fiction on Twiction Addicts on 24th January and 7th February. My story, 'The Edge of the World' should be in the next issue of Refractions, due out on 15th January and 'Haze' is due to appear in Fantasy Scroll Magazine in the near future. Finally, my poem, 'Plundering the Moon', should be in Illumen this spring. Enjoy!