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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Truth Be Told

I’m going to keep my ear to the ground so I’m not caught red-handed and have to face the music for living high on the hog and leaving others in the lurch. Many guides for creative writing caution about using trite and tired phrases. The first sentence above includes five of them.

Why the caution? The short answer is: overuse means just what it says . . . too much. My thoughts on said counsel are three-fold.

First, consciously or subconsciously, the reader might easily react, “Not that old phrase again.” The naked truth certainly refers to a reality, but it also certainly can be called something else . . . something other than what a zillion other writers call it. One might use unqualified honesty or genuine veracity as alternatives.

Second, using these trite phrases telegraphs a lack of creativity or a laziness that isn’t willing to apply it. There are courses galore on creative writing, and my guess is that most of them put the bug in the ear of prospective authors without further ado to avoid trite phrases like the plague.

Third, excellence in writing comes from the experience and thoughtful introspection of the author . . . not from applying time-worn clichés and/or the phraseology of others. Wordsmithing is hard work, and any language has an infinite variety of ways to express thoughts. Using the thoughts and artistry of others can easily lead to a work that is not worth a grain of salt.

All of the above is not to say that using an adage or time-tested phrase is never appropriate. But an author who wishes to carry readers with freshness and originality needs to be judicious about using the overused.

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