I think I’ll have a little fun today. I was participating in some readers’ forums on various sites and ran across this thread where readers commented on trite, overused, and worn out phrases that authors use in novels. I had to laugh out loud at some of these, and I blushed because I’ve caught myself using a few of them. Where readers get bugged the most are with the terms used for anatomy in love scenes. I will share some examples of their frustration thus the Adult Warning in the title.
When you are writing it is important to remember a few things. First, the era. If you write historicals then you will want the voices of your characters to be true to form. You need to use the language of the era and act within the “norm” of the times. That doesn’t mean you can’t have a rebel character, but you wouldn’t want them to be a Duke in England in the 1700s and use the word “Gosh”. Study the vernacular of the times and be true to it.
Descriptions are another area that trip up writers. Looking for ways to describe the fact that your character has brown eyes, brown hair, and a big nose can be challenging. You want it to be descriptive without being boring but you can take it too far. Here are some examples of descriptions that bug readers:
He whipped the eggs into a lemony froth – Yuck – are eggs supposed to taste lemony? I think they were referring to color but wrong choice.
He spanned her waist with his hands – How skinny was she???
The burning sword of his manhood – Ouch!
His lips slanted over hers – Can lips slant?
Don’t worry, it will fit. – Oh, boy, there’s an old one.
He purred. – What??? Is she with a man or a cat? Hmmm.
Okay, you get the idea. The other thing to be careful of in love scenes is using words that are worn out and tired. Here are some examples:
shaft of love
smoldering smokey eyes
Again, I think I’ve made my point. You want your writing to be fresh and real.
One of the best writers I’ve found who uses this imagery technique better than most is Dean Koontz. Yes, I know you wouldn’t expect this from a horror writer, but, boy, he is good. He can paint a picture with words like no one I’ve ever read.
A final suggestion would be to read your work out loud. If it sounds corny to you then it definitely will to your readers. Look at a revision. The good news is you can always edit!
Hope you enjoyed some of these phrases. Feel free to comment and add your own pet peeves!
Copyright 2014 by Kelly Abell