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Popular Phrases and Why They Usually Don't Make Sense

Ever read a line in someone's book and think it's flavorful but then pause, trying to make sense of it?

 

Your editor will probably tell you they do all the time, and usually it's a simple fix. But it might leave the author wondering why they couldn't have their amazing, saucy line.

 

Here are a few I see more often than others and why I tend to change them. 


"Look at [them] through [my] eyelashes"

 

Unless your eyelashes curve downward instead of upward like most, it's not particularly easy to look at your eyelashes, let alone through them. Avoiding having your character(s) look at something will enhance your writing anyway, so stick to "narrowed eyes" or "squint" or something that better describes how your character is looking at whatever they see.

"I find myself" in a place I brought myself to.

 

Just because you haven't been in that room before, doesn't mean you are finding yourself there. There is a good chance you walked in on your own accord. A book I read recently had: "I find myself sitting in her driveway, contemplating if I still want to go knock on her door or put it in reverse and drive away." You didn't find yourself there, man. You drove yourself there. The "I find myself" phrase should be kept for things like someone being taken somewhere while they were sleeping and they just awakened or for when your character is magically transported somewhere.

"[They] begin/start to" do something that they also finish.

 

If your character performs an action, have them do it. Don't only "start" it or "begin" it. When they only "start" or "begin" something, it's implied they aren't going to finish. So reserve those terms for when a character gets interrupted or distracted or if it's a task that takes a long time to accomplish and you're going into inner monolog in the meantime.


Have another popular phrase that makes you wrinkle your nose? Send me an email because I'd love to hear it!