Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I was thinking about overused phrases today... mostly because I was editing my novel, and I stumbled across the words cold as ice in one chapter. Instantly I thought, "Ugh! Change it!"

Free image courtesy of
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:

Hard-boiled detective
Handsome stranger
Femme fatale
Evil genius
Worthy opponent
Dashing hero
Absent-minded professor

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.


  1. Those. Vids. Were. Awesome! And so funny!

    Heh, your comments on those cliches were hilarious, Kat. :)

    1. Weren't those some of the most amazing animations? I love The Chosen One... dum dum dummmm!

  2. I love your responses to the cliches. LOL

  3. Great post! I am working on not using cliches. They turn up and you don't even realize you are doing it! I liked the revision you came up with for yourself. :)

    1. I like to use AutoCrit. It catches cliches really well, and I just have to go and revise it as marked.

  4. Cliches really get me yawning when I come across them in my reading, but you've made them fun with this post ;)

    1. It was the snide replies. I am very good at those, if I do say so myself... which, of course, I do!


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