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Ten Things I Hate
This is a list of the ten mistakes I’ve made in my novels as pointed out in numerous rejection letters. I’ve also included twenty-six other items of interest to writers of fiction, such as; Author intrusion, Voice, Suspension of disbelief, Plagiarism, Foreshadowing, Speech tags, Self-publishing, and more.
8. Clichés. Avoid them like the plague.
One of your primary objectives in your writing should be to create a new cliché. That is, invent a phrase that will be repeated a million times on social media and a thousand writers will use in their writing.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry” is a famous line from Erich Segal’s Love Story.
It’s short, catchy, and deep.
“To be or not to be.”
“All the world’s a stage.”
“Now is the winter of our discontent.”
Shakespeare was the master of clichés; however, when he wrote those lines, they were new and fresh. Five hundred years later, we’re still quoting him.
A few common clichés to avoid:
Every cloud has a silver lining.
Kiss and make up.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.
Ugly as sin.
Someone woke up on the wrong side of bed.
The time of my life.
All is fair in love and war.
And so on.
It’s tempting to use one of those lines because they’re quick and to the point, and most readers know exactly what you’re saying. But you must resist the easy way and put some thought into the idea you want to express, then put it in your own words. Hopefully, it’ll be a catchy phrase your reader will click into her phone to share with the world.
Clichés aren’t just phrases, they’re also events.
How many times have you seen these events in novels?
“My parents died in a car crash.”
“Dad didn’t show up at my recital.”
“He’s behind me, isn’t he?”
“He dumped me for a younger woman.”
“We’ve got company.”
“Don’t die on me.”
It seems ninety percent of the good guys get shot in the shoulder.
The goon with a machine gun in the car behind your car fires a thousand rounds from ten yards away and misses every time. A stray round doesn’t even hit one of your rear tires, for crying out loud. Yes, I know, a platitude within a cliché.