cliche-014As a writer, you know one of the  cardinal rules is to avoid clichés like the plague. Yes, I just used a cliché 🙂 See how easy it is. So what exactly is a cliché. It is a phrase or idea that is overused and portrays no original thought; a stereotype. There is nothing worse than being accused of lack of originality.

Cliché ideas are plots or subplots that pop up again and again. They are crutches for the writer to lean on. They move the story forward without much thought.

  • Having your character look in a mirror and describe themselves in great detail-This has been done to death. If you are writing in third person omniscient, it’s easy to drop a few major observations. First person is a bit harder but can be accomplished with a little thought. Put those creative juices to work.
  • The chosen one-Your hero isn’t just special. He/she has been chosen by some higher force. Characters can be special without being touched by the hand of fate.
  • Countdown clocks-Its a race against time. Will the hero prevail and save the day? Or will he fail, leaving death and destruction in his wake.
  • Veiling your story in a dream- You are devastated and can’t believe what just happened. How can the hero and heroine be killed!? Wait a minute, the heroine was just having a bad dream. Everyone is okay, you can relax.
  • Stalker love-The girl doesn’t love someone who loves her and he stalks her repeatedly. She finally realizes he loves her and falls head over heals.
  • Rush to the airport-You can’t let the love of your life get on that plane and fly off  never to be seen again. It wouldn’t make sense to catch a later flight and reunite with them later.
  • Guy and girl hate each other for some reason, but then fall in love- One of them does something stupid and they break up only to realize the mistake and meet later at a romantic place to make up.
  • Hero starts as shepherd/servant/farmboy-His family is killed and he moves on to become the all powerful prophesized hero.
  • An immortal falls in love with a mortal-He is willing to give up his immortality for true love.
  • Being stranded on a deserted island….

If you are going with an idea that is considered cliché, you had better come up with a way to make it stand out and read original. Get your creative juices flowing and make it your own.

clicheCommon phrases that you may not have realized were clichés are as follows:

  • accident waiting to happen
  • axe to grind
  • humble abode
  • take it like a man
  • naked truth
  • wreak havoc
  • spitting image
  • put all your eggs in one basket
  • matter of life and death
  • make or break
  • spill the beans
  • rock the boat
  • push someone’s buttons
  • one in a million
  • literally
  • life goes on
  • at the end of the day
  • in cold blood

There’s no way I could include every cliché in this blog, but I hope these get you thinking. Something else to look for when you start the editing process.

Online tools like autocrit, will locate and highlight clichés in your manuscript.

-Jan R





The Five Most Common Mistakes In Beginner Manuscripts(Repost)

I wish I could claim this post but it was actually written by Jerry Jenkins. I love his blogs. If you haven’t visited him, I would highly recommend you do. He did put a disclaimer at the end of this article saying it was ok to share with friends so I am in no way stealing his work. Hope this helps some one and hope you consider visiting his site.

It doesn’t sound fair.

It doesn’t seem right.

But here’s a dirty little secret of the writing life you need to hear:

Any veteran editor can tell within two minutes whether they’re going to reject your manuscript. 

It takes longer to decide whether they’ll recommend it for purchase, of course, but—sad to say—it can, and often does, go into the reject pile just that fast.

“What?” you say. “Before I’ve had a chance to wow them with my stupendous villain? Before my mind-blowing twist? Before my plot really takes off?”


And I’m not exaggerating.


Because the competition is so stiff and editors have so many manuscripts to read, you have only nanoseconds to grab them by the throat and hang on.

Every writing mentor hammers at this ad infinitum: Your editor is your first reader. 

Every word counts. You get one chance. You must capture them from the get-go.

Am I saying editors look for reasons to reject your work?

No, no, a thousand times no! They’re looking for the next Harry Potter!

Editors want you to succeed!

Then how can they know so quickly that your book won’t cut it?

In my lifetime in the business I’ve heard dozens of reasons, but let me give you my personal top five from my experience as both an editor and publisher:

  1. Throat-clearingThis is what editors call anything that comes before a story or chapter finally, really, begins. It usually consists of a page or two of scene setting and background. Get on with the story. Get your main character introduced, establish and upset some status quo, then plunge him into terrible trouble that reveals the engine of your story. Is it a quest, a journey, a challenge, what?There’ll be plenty of time to work in all those details that seemed so important while you were throat-clearing that would have cost you a sale. For now, your job is to start with a bang.
    1. Too many characters introduced too quickly

    I’m usually wary of generalizations or hard and fast rules, but almost any time I see more than three characters within the first few pages, my eyes start to swim. If I feel like I need a program to keep track of the players, I quickly lose interest. Your reader is trying to comprehend the story, and if you ask him to start cataloguing a cast of characters right away, you risk losing him. Keep things simple till the story has taken shape. 

    3.  Point of View violations                                                                                                Maintain a single Point of View (POV) for every scene. Violate that cardinal rule and you expose yourself as an amateur right out of the gate. Beginners often defend themselves against this criticism by citing classics by famous authors or citing J.K. Rowling, the exception who proves the rule.Times change. Readers’ tastes evolve. This is the rule for today, and it’s true of what sells.

    1. Clichés, and not just words and phrases

    There are also clichéd situations, like starting your story with the main character waking to an alarm clock, a character describing herself while looking in a full-length mirror, future love interests literally bumping into each other upon first meeting, etc.

    Avoid, too, beginning with an evocative, dramatic scene, and surprise, surprise, the main character wakes up to discover it’s all been a dream. There’s nothing wrong with dreams, but having them come as surprises has been used to death and takes all the air from the balloon of your story.

    It’s also a cliché to have your main character feel his heart pound, race, thud, or hammer; and then he gasps, sucks wind, his breath comes short… If you describe the scene properly, your reader should experience all that and you shouldn’t have to say your character did. Put your character into a rough enough situation, and the reader will know what he’s feeling without having to be told—and hopefully he’ll share his distress.

    1. Simply bad writing:
    • Written-ese

    This is what I call that special language we all tend to use when we forget to Just Say It. I recently edited this sentence from a beginner: “The firedrop from the pommel of Tambre’s sword shot past the shimmering silver mist of her involuntary dispersal.”

    I had to read a few more paragraphs to have a clue to what it even meant. That’s written-ese.

    Hollywood screenwriters coined this term for prose that exactly mirrors real life but fails to advance your plot. There’s nothing wrong with the words themselves, except that they could be synopsized to save the reader’s time and patience. A perfect example is replacing all the hi’s and hello’s and how are you’s that precede meaningful dialogue with something like: “After trading pleasantries, Jim asked Fred if he’d heard about what had happened to Tricia. ‘No, what?’”

    • Passive voice

    Avoid state-of-being verbs. Change sentences like “There was a man standing…” to “A man stood…”

    • Needless words

    The most famous rule in the bible of writing hints, The Elements of Style, is “Omit Needless Words,” which follows its own advice. This should be the hallmark of every writer.

    Example: The administrative assistant ushered me through the open door into the CEO’s office, and I sat down in a chair across from his big, wood desk.

    Edit: Obviously, there would be a door. And even more obviously, it would be open. If I sat, I would sit “down,” and naturally it would be in a chair. Because I’m seeing the CEO, a description of his desk would be notable only if it weren’t big or wood.

    Result: The administrative assistant ushered me into the CEO’s office, and I sat across from his desk.

    Re-examine these 5 common mistakes, and study more self-editing tips here, then share below your tips on how to turn rejections into sales.

    -Jan R

The Five Most Common Mistakes In Beginner Manuscripts(Repost)