Cliches are the bane of a writer's existence. They things pop up in the words we use. They undermine the characters we build. The darn things even undermine our story lines, because you structure your stories like so many other writers have done. So the question: how to avoid cliches. Here are a couple links that struck me as helpful.
What can be more cliche than a private eye? We can't all come up with a Harry Dresden, but we can give our private eye ... something different to investigate. Reed Farrel Coleman blogged on Ten Reasons to Hire a Private Eye at the Writing PIs. Once your main or secondary character is chin deep in the investigation, you can throw odd ball complications at her/him. It's the "odd ball" that gives your story its freshness.
Another way to avoid cliches is choosing a setting that is uniquely yours. We all have places we know better than most people. We know the possibilities for danger that are unique to that place and its hidden beauties. When we weave them into our stories, we create a sense of freshness. MaryLu Tyndall did a guest blog on Rachelle Gardner's blog that gives you some hints on different ways to weave a settings into your stories ... until the setting becomes a character in its own right.
I would have had another set of good hints, but the blog had all sorts of dire warnings about lifting info from it that I decided not to link to it. Which maybe reminds us, we should think twice about what we put in our blogs. Basic question you should ask yourself: Do you mind complete strangers knowing about what you write?
And then, there are my snarly elves. I've gotten the revisions done for two-thirds of "For the Price of a Pig". At least, I think I tied up the loose ends. I even have the last third of the story outlined in my rough fashion. -- Mainly writing down some suggestions actions that might take place. Of course, everything is subject to change.
At least, I've worked the black tailed pig into the ending of the story. My daughter still won't like it because she thinks the pig should be magical. I think she spent too much time in Wales.
Now, I get to resolve the story line ... and introduce the love interest ... only I can't decide which guy it'll be. -- That doesn't mean I'm done. It still has to be critiqued and rewritten, yet again.