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Sometimes it's really hard trying to be original with descriptions. There are so many spot-on descriptions I use when I'm writing my first draft, just because I want to get the meaning down on paper, but when I go back and revise the manuscript those spot-on descriptions tend to be clichés. So, I'll sit and try to think of a way to make it non-cliché. Say in my first draft I wrote, "She was smart as a whip." During revision I try to come up with a phrase that means the same thing, but is original. (FYI, I did think of replacing that phrase with "She was clever as a British crossword puzzle," except my story is a fantasy, so Britain doesn't exist!) After a bit of thinking, I decided to go with "She was as brilliant as a thread-line of magic." It's rough, and I'm not in love with it yet, but it fits my world and it's definitely not cliché. Bonus.
I hate it when I'm reading a book and I hit something so formulaic I wince. Here are some phrases I hate:
You know what I mean? (Uh, maybe.)
It's for the children. (*insert gagging emoticon*)
Like a ton of bricks. (You speak from experience?)
It is what it is. (Mmm, I see. What is IT, exactly?)
Think outside the box. (Why? Is my vision not fitting yours yet?)
White elephant. (Yup. Okay. If you say so. Looks like a house to me.)
Raining cats and dogs. (Kids! Come take a video of THIS rainstorm!)
Reach for the sky. (You realise I'll never touch it, and this is a futile gesture, right?)
Dog tired. (I guess so! Wait, you were a dog? I totally missed that!)
Do you have any truisms to add to the list? I'm sure you do!
Other things I hate are the cliché descriptions. Example:
What are some clichés you abhor? Add them to the list! And for kicks, enjoy these absolutely phenomenal videos, Animator vs. Animation, 1, 2, and 3.