Everyone tells you to eliminate cliches from your writing because editors hate them, but I still see cliches all the time in published books. This bothers me. Maybe a cliche or familiar phrasing is all right in some cases, but I’m getting tired of seeing them, especially these:
1. “starving children in Africa” – In many a YA book, the teen’s mother will tell her son or daughter to eat everything on his/her plate because there are starving children in Africa. I know real parents tell their kids this all the time, but since we hear it so much in real life, why should we have to hear it in fiction, too?
2. The Mirror Cliche – I’ve heard this piece of advice many times: Do not have your character describe him/herself by looking in a mirror. (As I dashed out of the house, I stopped by the hall mirror and smoothed my long, blond hair from my forehead. I smiled, which made my blue eyes light up…) I still see this in books all the time.
3. “if looks could kill” – I’ve seen this in quite a few YA books published in the last five years. I wish editors would eliminate it. “If looks could kill, her glare would have made me burst into flames” or something like that. I’m just sick of seeing it. If cliches could kill… this one would finish me off.
4. “toot your own horn” – Many nonfiction books talk about how detrimental it is to constantly toot your own horn. I see this one in fiction, too, which somehow makes it worse.
5. The Pony Every Child Supposedly Wants – Lots of YA and middle-grade novels have the protagonist talking about how they wanted their parents to buy them a pony or how every little girl wants a pony. “If you do well on your math test, I’ll get you that pony you’ve been wanting.” Not every child wants a pony. I think the phrase was supposed to be funny at some point, but now it’s just old.
Any cliches that really annoy you? Let me know. 🙂