My favorite chapter for today in 'Championship Writing' by Paula LaRocque is Chapter 8, "Fadspeak." I enjoyed it and benefitted from its coaching when I got the book in 2002. (To catch up with another favorite, click here.)
Its lessons in avoiding clichés, or "canned clutter" as LaRocque calls them, are easier to obey now that the proscribed, insulted expressions are at least 16 years old. (Gotcha! The book was two years old when I bought it.)
"Dependence upon the latest language fad is particularly dangerous for writers and editors," LaRocque writes.
Among the "canned clutter" we would do well to avoid, LaRocque lists
"Been there, done that.
Get a life." and
The mother of all...
At the end of her list, and the chapter, are
"It's so over.
I'm outta here."
The only way I can defend using "the latest phrase" is to show the time. If I'm working on my novel, I like to look for expressions in my 1983 diary which the characters can use in fictional 1983.
Similarly, the president-elect's characteristic accent and usage will soon be even more familiar -- but this summer's debate about whether he was saying "bigly" or "big league" will remain a mental link to this summer. (At least it will for those who are Serious about words!)
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