Writing Books/Cliches


I know what the word "cliche" means but sometimes in writing trying to identify it- it's not so "cut-and-dry" for me. Which of these 6 would you say are cliches, if not all of them?

1--- His eyes were as wide as the moon. #For this I belive it is. It would be preferred to say imo "His eyes were wider than the moon.#
2--- The look from him chilled her bones.
3--- As for Dorothy, her wounds would never really heal.
4--- It was like a war zone.
5--- Not exactly Mr. Sensitive, is he?
6---- The officer gave him a cold stare.

A cliché can be any phrase that has been used before, such as scared to death, mad as hell, happy as a pig in mud, and so forth. Clichés include word combinations used often, such as simple fact that; shiver (sob, cry) uncontrollably; brink of disaster; I, for one; mind’s eye; stunned silence; and the bottom line.

As you apparently suspect, things that cannot appear in reality often are clichés. For example, a stare has no temperature, so it cannot be cold; a look cannot make bones chilled; eyes cannot truly be as wide as a moon or wider than a moon, and most real wounds do heal, if we stay alive long enough.

Again, if you've heard it before, then it's a cliché. If you want to write creatively, create something new.

Clichés in dialogue are usually acceptable in moderation, because people do speak in overused, worn-out phrases. Writers should not lean on clichés in narrative, however.

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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