I hate how many times I heard this in high school English class. Now I have to admit the teacher was right.
DON’T WRITE WITH CLICHÉS!
Okay, I know all caps indicate yelling. But the teacher yelled at me, so now I get to yell at you.
Certain phrases (two or more words) have become so overused that the expression is no longer either clever or novel. Now they’re just boring and tiresome. They no longer have any strength of meaning. They don’t add any specific details that give the reader a clear picture with which to identify.
They are so generalized they contribute nothing to the story you are writing.
Theodore A. Rees Cheney addressed clichés in GETTING THE WORDS RIGHT: How to Revise, Edit and Rewrite. While he wrote this book in 1984 and revised it in 1990, his advice remains sound.
To help you find places in your manuscript where you may have inadvertently used a cliché, run an EDIT/FIND for the words like and as. These two words often precede a cliché.
A great website that lists the largest collection of clichés ever compiled is clichesite.com. On this site you can search for clichés alphabetically by the first word of the cliché phrase, submit a cliché if you don’t see it listed, and even check on their “Cliché of the Day.”
Googling cliché will bring up a long list of sites where you can explore this subject further.
For more detailed information on CLICHES and the editing process, CLICK HERE.
Completed the first draft of your novel? Congratulations!
You think that was work? Get ready for EDITING! This is where your major work begins.
Editing isn’t just about making sure the words are spelled correctly and the grammar is correct. Editing is looking at every aspect of your writing—from your initial story idea, through the telling of your story, to how you craft your sentences.
Well, yes, and spelling and punctuation, too.
I’ve had writers in my classes say, “Oh, I’ll just hire an editor to do all that.”
Really? And what is your budget for that?
So here are 3 reasons why after you master the art of writing you want to master the art of editing:
1 – Professional editing is not cheap. Not only that but, to cover all the bases, you will likely need to hire two people, a Developmental or Content Editor and a Copy or Line Editor.
2 – You can significantly reduce professional editing costs. If you want to hire an editor—and when you feel you are completely finished with your manuscript you should pay a qualified person to look at the work—you will need to budget anywhere from $3/page to $40/hour. And that’s the low end. You only have to google “average editing costs” to verify what I’m talking about.
3 – Presenting a well-edited book to an agent or publishing house makes you look professional. And professionalism increases your chances of being taken seriously as a writer and getting published.
For more detailed information on the editing process and how you can easily master it, CLICK HERE.
“You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you.” Zen in the Art of Writing, by Ray Bradbury
Are you addicted to writing? Can you honestly say it’s your passion?
In a career spanning more than seventy years, Ray Bradbury (who died at 91 in 2012) inspired generations of readers to dream, think, and create.
During his career he wrote hundreds of short stories and almost fifty books, as well as poems, essays, operas, plays, teleplays, and screenplays.
One of the most celebrated writers of our time, Bradbury won numerous awards and honors and was even nominated for an Academy Award. So if you are serious about writing, you want to know what this man has to say.
In these nine essays on writing and creativity he will entertain you, inspire you and remind you that there is joy to be found in writing.
“I have learned, on my journeys,” says Bradbury, “that if I let a day go by without writing, I grow uneasy.”
Learn from the best. Learn from Ray Bradbury.
Because you’re serious about becoming a good writer, I’m going to assume you have acquired a number of books on the subject.
Here are the 7 best books on writing (in my opinion) and why I’ve chosen them.
While this book is targeted to screenwriters, we can learn a lot about story-telling from how movies are structured. A good reference to learn how to take the basic elements of story-telling and make them work in a successful novel.
Techniques of the Selling Writer, Dwight Swain
Who doesn’t want to be a selling writer? So why not study what kinds of fiction writing sells? Swain’s book is informative, insightful, and to-the-point.
Writing the Breakout Novel, Donald Maas
I’m a huge fan of Donald Maas since I heard him speak at a writers’ conference and participated in an extra session with him. His focus was on the suspense that keeps us reading. Maas is also a successful New York agent, and the most important thing he said that I have always remembered is, “I want to see conflict on every page.”
The Power of Myth, Joseph Campbell
Campbell breaks down what has traditionally made storytelling work. For the wannabe writer just discovering his/her muse, I would say, “Buy and read this book first.”
A traditional and insightful approach to that old devil, punctuation. I don’t know about you, but I admit I didn’t pay that much attention to this subject in my high school creative writing class, so it’s a valuable resource now.
The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Storytellers and Screenwriters, Christopher Vogler
Along with Joseph Campbell, Vogler is considered a guru of storytelling. His views on the subject are evergreen.
On Writing, Steven King
Besides containing some interesting writing advice, King’s book is full of insights on not just successful writing, but also on the writer’s life.
How many of these are on your shelf? I recommend they all be.