Cliches and commonplaces?
Oh yes, am back on the re-drafting wagon. Currently that involves putting in a few more references to what my characters look like... so maybe if you do buy the book next year, you could try to spot the original descriptions, and the brand new reminders. Then again, you probably have better things to do with your time. Like snipping away at your lawn with nail scissors.
Doing this makes me realise how often, even in a heavily edited manuscript, I rely on phrases like 'unruly hair'. Well, I have spotted it twice twice in the MS. It's hard to know where to stop. Is 'unruly hair' a cliche, or is it perfectly valid description of someone whose barnet (Cockney rhyming slang, Barnet Fair, hair) is on the troublesome side... and is two uses a horrible abuse of the English language, or fair enough? Have compromised on one. But I might have to get rid of that too, now I've made such a big deal of it.
During this process, I ought probably to give up on other people's fiction, in case I accidentally use someone else's phrase or idea, but it's a hard habit to break. Especially when the latest book I've read is Jennifer Weiner's Little Earthquakes. It's the first of her novels I've read, though I really enjoy her blog, and I lapped the book up. Incisive, intelligent writing; warm but reassuringly imperfect characters; and, technique-wise, fantastic structure. And what's not to love about an author who admits to the occasional mistake in her novels like this... (scroll down to the question about eating a crab's leg).
The trouble with this discovery is that of course now I will have to buy her two previous books. And spend a lot of time wondering why I can't write as well. Still... you gotta keep trying...
Lovely Link of the Day:
Another agent spills the beans. Agent 007 has switched from editing to agenting so obviously knows lots about the business... Her latest entry is all about how it feels to be grabbed by the queries, so to speak. Essential reading if you're submitting, even if it isn't to the Mysterious 007.