Saturday, July 02, 2011

Do I Say That?

A few weeks ago, I saw this list over at This Week At The Library and wondered if I was guilty of using these stock phrases. smellincoffee highlighted the phrases he’s guilty of using. The original list is from and the list below was copied by This Week At The Library from their site, including the examples given and I’m passing it along. My comments are in blue.
1. Gripping
2. Poignant: if anything at all sad happens in the book, it will be described as poignant
3. Compelling  I think I use this word. Do I? Have you seen it?
4. Nuanced: in reviewerspeak, this means, "The writing in the book is really great. I just can't come up with the specific words to explain why."
5. Lyrical: see definition of nuanced, above.
6. Tour de force
7. Readable  I must have said this at some point.
8. Haunting  I’ve said that I’ve been haunted by a book, does that count?
9. Deceptively simple: as in, "deceptively simple prose"  I don’t think I would ever say this.
10. Rollicking: a favorite for reviewers when writing about comedy/adventure books
11. Fully realized
12. At once: as in, "Michael Connelly's The Brass Verdict is at once a compelling mystery and a gripping thriller." See, I just used three of the most annoying clichés without any visible effort. Piece of cake.
13. Timely
14. " X meets X meets X": as in, "Stephen King meets Charles Dickens meets Agatha Christie in this haunting yet rollicking mystery."
15. Page-turner
16. Sweeping: almost exclusively reserved for books with more than 300 pages
17. That said: as in, "Stephenie Meyer couldn't identify quality writing with a compass and a trained guide; that said, Twilight is a harmless read."  I don’t think I’ve used that exact phrase, but I think I’ve said something similar.
18. Riveting
19. Unflinching: used to describe books that have any number of unpleasant occurences -- rape, war, infidelity, death of a child, etc.
20. Powerful  I think I’ve used it too. Sometimes there isn’t another word for it, right?

Thankfully, I don’t think I used a lot of these words. Unless I just don’t notice. Do I use them? Do you find yourself using some of these common phrases?


  1. I know I use compelling. I use it kind of a lot.

  2. Nope - don't use any of those. But I'm sure I abuse some other words or phrases - lol

  3. I've never seen ANYONE use 'deceptively simple'...though 'compelling' remains a word I keep wanting to use!

  4. Yes, I do use some of them: poignant and gripping for instance.
    I think the problem is more about using them too much. If a story is poignant (not sad, but poignant), it makes sense to use the word, no?

  5. I don't think I use any of those words. I have my own over used words though: definitely and emotional.

  6. Maybe, more than anything, the orginal article is asking book reviewers to expand thier reviewing vocabulary to give readers a better understanding of the book. Just a thought.

  7. Yes, I'm often conscious that I use the same words. It's a difficult task and there are words I'm not comfortable using yet.
    I know that when my supervisors read my PhD work, they often suggest other words, but it usually takes a few recommendations of the same work before I feel confident to use the word by myself. New in my wrting vocabulary is the word "deploy", for instance.

  8. Lol, that's funny. I don't actually notice when people use stock phrases so long as it's relevant. I'm not sure I use many of these, possible riveting. I do use likeable a lot.