About this blog

This is a window into the weird world of Anglicanism, as experienced on a Cathedral Close. Has anything much happened since Trollope's Barchester Chronicles? You will still see the 'canon in residence' hurrying across to choral Evensong, robes flapping, as the late bell chimes. But look carefully and you will notice he is checking the football score on his iPhone as he runs. This is also a writer's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the novelist's life. And it's a fighter's blog. It charts the agony and ecstasy of the judo mat. Well, the agony, anyway.

Monday 14 October 2013

Cliché Watch

I offer you this little list, coyly batting my jet black eyelashes, like a butterfly.  Like a  coy butterfly fluttering on a summer breeze.  Coyly, with my heart pumping.  In my jet black lashy pumpy way.

Things creative writers might want to avoid: 

Emerald/piercing green eyes
Cold grey eyes
Raven/jet black hair/locks
Unruly mops of hair
Unruly wisps of hair (especially if pushed back/tucked behind ear)
Rueful smiles
Lean/chiselled features
Dimpled chins
Red lips (especially if parted breathlessly)

Long slim legs (female)
Broad shoulders (male)
Loose-limbed athletic form (male, especially if trousers/jeans hang from hips)
Curvaceous body (female, especially if seen through flimsy nightgown)

‘She thought to herself’
Murmuring softly
Any expletives shouted angrily

Catching sight of self in mirror/reflective surface in order to describe appearance to reader
Staring unseeingly
Peeping up at people through lashes
Eye rolling/narrowing/glinting/flashing
Excessive eyebrow raising/arching/quirking (especially if done quizzically)
Swallowing lumps in throat
Head/hair tossing
Choking back tears
Small muscles convulsing in cheek/jaw
Overuse of gastric activity to convey fear/panic/foreboding
Excessive shrugging/smirking during dialogue
Repeated nostril flaring and/or lip twitching
Gritting of teeth

Weather and The Natural World
Anything shrouded in mist
Trees with gnarled bark
Generic smells/aromas wafting
Generic trees rustling in the breeze (NB accidental  rhyme)
Unnamed birds chirping/twittering, (especially in green meadows/dark forests)
Copious amounts of anything


  1. I can offer you mops of golden curls.

  2. My worst, which is not really a cliché but just some insanely obvious writing, was a line which described someone drinking tea as ‘sipping the hot, sweet liquid’. IT’S TEA. Everyone knows what it is like. Sorry for resorting to capital letters, but I’ve been wanting to get that off my chest for twenty years.

    Afraid I did give someone some very black hair last week. Not raven black, but even so. I teeter on the edge of the abyss.

    1. Yes, we set our faces against redundancy as well. Superfluous redundancy, she pointed out, as if stating the obvious.