Writers Confess Phrases They Overuse

John Boyne, legendary author of The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, tweeted today asking other writers if they’ve wrestled with phrases they overuse, and if so, what they are:

 

Are there writers who find themselves using the same lame phrases over and over & having to cut them? I'm terrible for "he hesitated for a moment, then looked away" & I've realised that my characters spend so much time shrugging that it's like their shoulders are on springs *crying laughing emoji*

 

If you’ve done any volume of writing, you can probably relate. Beyond a signature style, authors sometimes have words they use more often, or in this case, concepts and sentence pieces. A surprising number of them have to do with actions the characters are taking. The tweet got an enormous number of responses, causing the topic to trend on twitter. The whole thing gives the impression of characters doing things without the authors’ permission.

 

 

And I mean… they probably shouldn’t. But whether they’re blinking might not always be relevant. And she’s not the only one whose characters have gotten a little unruly.

 

 

Why won’t these characters hold still? Don’t they know what medium they’re in?

 

 

It isn’t always character wrangling, though. Sometimes the words won’t work. Or sometimes there are just too many of them.

 

 

Paraphrasing yourself is a lovely new take on the self drag. Though the original tweet’s tone was of amused annoyance, in some cases it devolved into actual advice, as though THAT’s going to change anything.

 

 

I mean, sure, you’re probably right, but sometimes a person’s gotta shrug. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Only when the moment’s right, I guess.

 

 

Featured image via ZDNet