This blog was featured on 09/03/2019
Avoid Clichés in Dialogue and Descriptions
Contributor
Written by
Maria Murnane
September 2019
Contributor
Written by
Maria Murnane
September 2019

When you watch interviews with professional athletes, do you ever find yourself thinking they all sound the same, regardless of what sport they play? I find that most  (not all, but most) sports interviews are nothing but a steady stream of platitudes as:

“We take it one game at a time.”

“We give 100 percent every time we step on the field.”

“We need to relax and play our game.”

“Generic comment generic comment generic comment.”

Don’t you wish athletes would say something meaningful? I do. I once watched an interview with Phil Jones, a defender in the English Premier League. I’d never heard him speak before, and I quickly realized he was answering questions like a real person, offering interesting, insightful nuggets that couldn’t be seamlessly attributed to a baseball player in Los Angeles or a basketball player in Miami. I was riveted. And impressed. I also immediately became a fan. Go Phil Jones!

The same applies to the figure skater Adam Rippon. When he speaks he is colorful, honest, and different, which is why he became so popular at the last Olympics. His refreshing approach made me, and millions of others, want to listen to what he had to say.

When you’re writing dialogue and descriptions, try to put yourself in your readers’ shoes. Are you using imaginative language? It’s challenging, but it’s important.

A close friend of mine once read an early draft of one of my books and told me she rolled her eyes when she saw that someone’s heart had "skipped a beat." Her comment stung for about two seconds, until I realized she was right. “Heart skipped a beat” is a cliché, and my readers want—and deserve—better writing. So do yours!

-Maria

 

Maria Murnane writes bestselling novels about life, love and friendship. Have questions? You can find her at www.mariamurnane.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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