A couple of years ago, Blogger Janice Harayda began compiling a list of terms that are overused by publishers, critics, and reviewers. I'm going to borrow some of my favorites from her list, while I'm compiling my own list of bits of publishing advice that I'm tired of reading. Here are some of Janice's terms, accompanied by what the writer really wanted to say
. You can find her whole list at http://oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2011/08/21/40-publishing-buzzwords-cliches-and-euphemisms-decoded/
Now I'm going to work on my own list of words and phrases that I would like to banish from all further use in treatises about "how to write." I'm starting with this one:
"Show, don't tell." What's that supposed to mean? I can't just say that someone is tall? I have to show him hitting his head on a door frame? Yes, I agree that long descriptive passages can be deadly, but there are also times when nothing will do the job better than a simple adjective. And, for that matter, how do you "show" something with words? Isn't that just "telling" in another form? It's a silly phrase, one that makes the so-called adviser sound like an expert, perhaps, but so over-used by now that it deserves a compassionate burial.
I'm particularly anxious to hear from other -book authors on this question. Do you have your own favorite? The one piece of advice that makes you want to slap the person who offers it? A meaningless phrase? A faddish, but unhelpful, suggestion? Leave your suggestions in the comments below and we'll form our own list.