Day 25 – Eliminate Clichés and Trim Overwriting

This is the continued saga of my foray into Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel in 31 Days at-home workshop (

Today I will start polishing my novel by eliminating clichés and revising purple prose.

Clichés can be any words or phrases that have become so familiar and comfortable they practically write themselves. Some examples are: “crept cautiously,” “pressed an ear against,” “a noise rang out,” yeah, right,” and “or so he thought.”

Overwriting is writing that’s trying too hard to get a simple point across. Flowery, or purple prose, is text so filled with descriptive metaphors, similes, adjectives, etc., that it screams “Look at my fancy writing.”

Results: Unlike most writers, I tend to write too little description, so my metaphors and similes are pretty spread out. Again, my writer’s group is good about catching clichés, so most of the ones that I let slip through have already been cleaned up. (Is it cliché to run your hands through your hair?)

Take-Away Value:

Keep in mind that you want to keep your writing as tight as possible. Eliminating all unnecessary words will keep the clichés and purple prose at bay. Don’t leave any paragraphs that you would skip yourself if you were the reader.

Do you find yourself going back and adding description, or do you have to go back and delete a lot of unnecessary clichés and purple prose? What works best for you? Do you catch them as you write or wait until the end?

See you on the next page.




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