For an intro into where these tips are coming from, please see my post: A Full Manuscript Rejection, or a Gold Mine?
I found this photograph on Wikipedia with the definition of Cliché. It’s pretty old, and the copy right is outdated.
You can tell, even with how old this cartoon is, that if they were making fun of some clichés this long ago, what would they think now?
I must admit, I am guilty myself of using the last one. Now that I see it in a picture, I have to giggle. Sometimes, I think you need to have something drawn to see the “funny” in it… Like tossing your head in the air.
The publisher who redlined the Gold Mine Manuscript marked “in a split Second”, “Looked her in the eye”, “Laid low” and “in all shapes and sizes” as clichés. They also said that eyes don’t meet, but gazes can meet. (Can you picture two people’s eyes actually meeting? Now that I have that visual, I stop every time I start typing it.)
Characters Dropping Eyeballs?
There are a lot more that are common, that we probably aren’t even aware we are using. For me, now that I think of it… My characters always drop their eyes. I guess I can change that to “lowered their gaze” since they aren’t actually dropping their eyeballs out of their heads.
I’ll also mention that they weren’t crazy about colloquial expressions either, as they thought they wouldn’t be understood by everyone, so use those sparingly as well.
I hate the one about the eyes. Everyone knows what the author means when he/she says ‘their eyes met’. No one that I know of, when they read this, takes it literally, that the people’s eyes jumped out of their heads and met each other. As an author, it is more cumbersome and not as romantic to use ‘gaze’, so much so that sometimes I avoid writing the eye thing all together. I do, however, try to watch for the cliches and every now and then they creep in. Sometimes they’re hard to avoid as we’re so used to them and say them every day. Great post.
One thing I’ve noticed I’d that when i do see the eye-thing is that it will only appear once in a novel. While this particular publisher didn’t want to see it at all, i think the trick is to use sparingly if you have to use it at all.
This is great! Hahaha