Monday, June 10, 2013

Pet Peeves

Hi. I’m Eilidh, and I’ve been editing for The Wild Rose Press for about five years now. I started on the Champagne line and moved to Black Rose for the thrills. Along with some exciting stories, however, comes the occasional overused phrase.

Almost every submission that crosses my desk includes one of three tired phrases. I’ve seen these so often they have become cliché. If you use these phrases, it doesn’t mean an automatic rejection, but I’ll definitely ask you to change them to something more original.

The first one is couldn’t help but. This usually comes in the form couldn’t help but laugh or couldn’t help but smile. You could make a simple change to something like he had to smile; that gets you away from the cliché. Or you could be more descriptive: she pursed her lips to hide a grin.

The next one is (verb) her way. She made her way, wove her way across the room, navigated her way through traffic, puzzled her way through the dilemma, pushed her way through the crowd. It’s just redundant. Why not weave across or just cross the room, navigate through traffic, or puzzle through your dilemma?

 The third cliché phrase is didn’t know where he ended and she began and similar phrases. Sometimes it shows up as didn’t know where her body ended and his began. The first time I came across this phrase, years ago, it was fresh, but it hasn’t been fresh for a long time.

We all have the same pool of words to draw from when writing. Make your prose stand out by avoiding tired phrases and arranging your words in your own original style.

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