“The Same, But Different.”
Formulas work, and you can fight me until you’re blue in the face, but you’d still be wrong. Clichés are clichés for a reason – they’re popular, people are attracted to them. Regardless of how generic, those things work.
But you have to make it stand out.
THAT is the key to making clichés and formulas your bitch.
Read through your WIP and find the clichés; see what you can take out, or (if you’re absolutely married to it) see what you can improve with a little personal flavor.
Keep in mind: everything has already been done. There is nothing original left. With this in mind, you can write fearlessly. Write exactly what you want, because while it’s all been done before, it hasn’t been done in every flavor. That’s where your story comes in.