Those of you who follow me on Twitter probably know the phrases I can’t stand the most because I often talk (rant?) when I come across them while reading slush. Those phrases that make me cringe. Those phrases that, no matter the category or genre, end up in 90% of manuscripts (and a smaller—thank goodness—percentage of published books).
There’s nothing wrong with these phrases, per se. They’re descriptive. They show and don’t tell. They’ve simply been overused (times a hundred).
So a few weeks ago I posed a question on Twitter, asking what phrases people were sick of seeing in books/manuscripts. Editors, readers, and authors chimed in and these are the top eight overused phrases in fiction:
8. glancing through lowered lashes
7. eyes like ice (to show a person is cold)
6. a voice like music
5. cheeks that burn like flames/fire
4. nails biting into palm, blood
3. breath getting caught in throat
2. biting lip and tasting blood
And the top Most Annoying Phrase…………..
1. letting out a breath you didn’t know you were holding
I want to hear what you think. What overused phrases make you cringe?