I pondered it awhile, for a few hours even feeling like the Queen of Cliche. Not only do I use cliche metaphors but I've realized that some of my plots are cliche. And my characters...
So I admit to sulking a little. :-)
Then, with the help of a writer buddy, I picked myself up and examined the situation.
A long, long time ago I took a creative writing class. It was one of the best things I've ever done. The teacher loves poetry so that is what our studies focused on. Poetry is an incredible tool for teaching noncliche writing. Mrs. Robison encouraged us to use metaphors and words in new and fresh ways. Because of that class I learned to describe images with different kinds of verbs, to examine a scene and paint it for the reader.
Perhaps I forgot these lessons while immersed in my wip, but now I've remembered. Below is a poem by Ted Kooser, thirteenth poet laureate of the United States.
Study the way he uses verbs and metaphors. One metaphor in particular always catches my eye. Can you guess which?
Still thawing, breezy
Arthritic and weak, my old dog Hattie
stumbles behind me over the snow.
When I stop, she stops, tipped to one side
like a folding table with one of the legs
not snapped in place. Head bowed, one ear
turned down to the earth as if she
could hear it turning, she is losing the trail
at the end of her fourteenth year.
Now she must follow. Once she could catch
a season running and shake it by the neck
till the leaves fell off, but now they get away,
flashing their tails, as they bound off
over the hill. Maybe she doesn't see them
out of those clouded, wet brown eyes,
maybe she no longer cares. I thought
for a while last summer that I might die
before my dogs, but it seems I was wrong.
She wobbles a little way ahead of me now,
barking her sharp small bark,
then stops and trembles, excited, on point
at the spot that leads out of the world.