Repetition on a global scale.
I'm talking trite. I'm talking cliché. I'm talking agents, editors and contest judges see these phrases so often that when they're reading your MS they're wailing, "Why can't anyone think of another way to say this?"
Just what is an immaculately dressed hero? (It's almost always the hero.) What, like he took a shower before he showed up? And what's up with the intricately tied cravat?
The Hit List
- He turned
- looked up at
- looked down at
- She winced at
- towards, forwards, backwards (hey! it's toward, forward and backward).
- briefly glanced at
- simple - as in she wore a simple gown
- rather - as in He was rather amused
- He was immaculately dressed in
- His intricately tied cravat, blah blah blah
- bloody hell
- , is it not? (and its variations)
I'm not saying you can never use these words or phrases, I'm just saying, you need to know they get used a lot so watch out. They can make your writing seem thoughtless - as in - Geez! you didn't even try to think of something better. Or, worse, you used the word or phrase because everybody else is using it so it must be right.
Think about it. Just what is an immaculately dressed hero? (It's almost always the hero.) What, like he took a shower before he showed up? And what's up with the intricately tied cravat? I know you only wrote that because that's how all the heros wear their cravats. But, I have found a book that shows some knots and from now on I pledge to use this word only in an absolutely desperate emergency.
Heroines in simple dresses. (I'm slowly, sadly shaking my head.) If it isn't a simple dress, then it's her hair and her dress is now elegant. (I'm going to add that to the list right now....) Or maybe the ribbons in her hair. Have you looked at the fashion plates? Hair wasn't simple all that often and neither were the frocks. I may have to give you elegant, but grudgingly. Go read the section on Show don't Tell.
I've added a new one to the list because I'm starting to see it a lot. Way, way too much a lot. What is it? A statement, followed by a meaningless question. "Lovely day, is it not?" This is now approaching cliche. Writers are using this irritating little tag because it sounds like Regency-era talk not becasuse the character actually talks that way. Heroines seem to be the primary offenders. But heros who need to seem wry or indifferent also talk this way.