By Natalie Bright

A worn-out and overused expression to convey a popular thought or idea.

I’ve blogged about cliché phrases before but I just love using them in new and interesting ways. It’s a fun exercise in word usage and can give your brain a real work out.

The cliché I wanted to use in my picture book manuscript was this:

If you love something, set it free; if it comes back, it’s yours. If it doesn’t, it never was.

Richard Bach

The sentence I used in my story about a sister who gives something of great value to her little brother became this:

Now and then you might find something and keep it, or you can let somebody else love it more.

Types of Cliché

  • Piece of advice or proverb: Quit while you’re ahead.
  • An expression that does not relate to the literal meaning of the word: I am over the moon. (called an idiom)
  • Take a well-known term associated with a character or famous person and make that catchphrase part of your own character: Yabba-dabba-do – Fred Flinstone.
  • Compare one thing with another (simile): He drinks like a fish.
  • Create a metaphor which is a comparison in which one thing is said to be another: She’s a walking dictionary.

More Examples

The ball is in your court.

Every cloud has a silver lining.

Think outside the box.

It’s raining cats and dogs.

This is the first day of the rest of your life.

The grass is always greener on the other side.

Bad to the bone.

He’s one in a million.

Like a duck out of water.

The general rule is to avoid cliché phrases like the plague, but as a creative writer you can turn those old, worn out sayings into something fresh and unique. Make it your own and add some color to your stories. Have fun!


Tips from a Pro

Tips from a Pro

By Natalie Bright

Award winning author of 147 books, Dusty Richards, visited our critique group along with a few of our writerly guests to share insight on story craft and the crazy world of today’s publishing business.

Getting Started

Dusty writes short stories and novels set in the west which usually include a few cowboys on horses, but as he pointed out, story craft can apply across all genres. “For beginning writers, don’t think you have to write Gone With the Wind,” he says. “Write about one character and tell his story.”

Structuring a Story

Basic story structure can be divided into four parts:

Part 1: character lost (first 60-80 pages)

Part 2: character is alone

Part 3: emerging hero (somebody comes forward to help him & he has purpose)

Part 4: the main character becomes a Hero or Martyr

Keeping this basic structure in mind, you can apply this to most mainstream novels and movies. Think of story as a collection of scenes and sequels. Every action deserves a response.

Newbie Writer Mistakes & POV

Dusty told us that the number one mistake he sees over and over is Point of View. If you’re writing in the main characters point of view, an action statement should never be “they walked inside”, for example. It should always be he or she. “He took her arm and led her inside.” Stay in your characters POV and be true to that character. Don’t use words that seem awkward or stilted for that character.

Writing Exercise

Here’s your homework: for those writers having trouble with internalization, Dusty suggested finding a few used paperbacks and highlighting the internal dialogue. Not quotation spoken dialogue or action or imagery, only the character’s internal thoughts.

For more information about books by this SPUR Award winning author, visit



Natalie Bright

A summary of the novel’s events and a cataloging of character development in narrative form.

Writing Assignment:

Write a two page Synopsis for your current work in progress. Keep it tight, concise and try to let your own “voice” and writing style shine through.

Elements of a Synopsis

The opening hook: what makes your story stand out from the rest?

Who is the main character?

Trigger Event.

What your main character learns.



Agents: What They’re Good For

Agents: What They’re Good For

by Natalie Bright

Agent, editor, publisher, market researcher, promoter, bookstore seller, book author relations manager, graphic artist, publicist, website designer, book reviewer, marketing exec, critique partner, event scheduler: do you have an understanding of the work done by each of these people?

If you’re a writer, these folks are important. They are your team of professionals in the publishing industry. If you’re a published author, you’re probably doing one or most of these jobs yourself.

At a BookFair event, I was asked “Where do I find my agent? I probably should get one.”  No, this author didn’t have the book finished, and no, they couldn’t identify the genre. But, they wanted their book on the New York Times list and that’s what an agent does. These types of conversations always leave me surprised at how confusing the world of publishing can be. So, let’s talk about agents.

Agents bring people together: the publishing house and the author; the story idea and the screenplay writers; the artists and the book designers; the dreamers and the publishing executives.

The Hard Sale

When I consider all of the jobs listed above, I think the most difficult is the literary agent based on my experience as a licensed real estate agent.

A real estate salesman brings people together; the buyer and the seller. The frustrating part is we’re not privy to any insider information that might help us close the deal. The homeowner has done everything right. The property is in pristine condition. What are the potential buyers whispering about in the back yard? The wife tells me she loves the house, but hates that color of beige in the kitchen. I point out that walls can be painted. She just can’t envision it, which makes we wonder what’s the real reason? I haven’t a clue what to say or how to reach a compromise. No sale.

I gave up my real estate license years ago because I did not have the patience for the business. And then I changed my focus to a career in writing (talk about a test of patience).

Bringing People Together

Even though authors are the creative energy behind this whole process, we can’t know exactly what editors and publishing houses are really looking for.  We’ll never be invited to the internal team meetings. We’re not privy to the insider buzz about long-term business plans or the new imprints, but literary agents are the people with an inside track to this information. Editors say “we’re looking for” and literary agents work to fill those slots.

I can’t imagine getting hundreds of queries every week. How do you know which ones have the potential for greatness? Which manuscript is worth an agent’s time to provide direction with revisions? How can they determine which story a particular editor will feel a connection to? How can they decide whose career has the greatest longevity? And remember, agents don’t get paid until there’s a contract.

Literary agents have the ability to bring all of the players to the table and if a publishing contract is signed, the result is something magical, or that’s how I feel about books anyway (when I finish reading a great story it’s like magic to me). What a satisfying feeling that must be for agents knowing that they are the key to who knows who.

Publishing in an Uproar

As I read the news and deals on Writers Marketplace, I’ve come to realize how much the industry is changing. Yes, there are many opportunities out there for agented and un-agented authors, but the playing field is in an uproar. I think having a literary agent on your side is a good thing. Who knows if your story will find a home? It might not. Who knows what the next hottest genre will be? That’s impossible to predict.

When you read the list of industry professionals above, you might have noticed I left one person off of the list: writer. That would be you – the only thing you can completely control is getting words on the page and it’s the hardest work you’ll ever do. And in today’s world, the options are mind blowing for writers who have a good understanding of who’s sitting at the table and the roles they play in building a career. I have a self-pub book, an inspirational eBook on Smashwords that will be a softcover soon, and I have a knowledgeable, capable literary agent who is shopping a middle grade novel. We can have it all, I think, if you’re willing to work 24/7 to reach your goals.

Whatever your goals, go for it, have confidence in the story that only you can tell, and good luck in reaching your dreams! Thanks for being a part of WordsmithSix.

Crazy Daze

Crazy Daze

By Natalie Bright

The month of May has always been whirlwind of stuff, and I can never seem to get control. What is it about May?

I’ll spare you the list because I’m sure your obligations are the same or even worse. What suffered this month is my writing. And no matter how much I worry and fret, I can’t go back and recover those productive hours. They’re gone. Poof. And I’m left with an unfinished story, patiently waiting, still digging a hole in my brain. It will take another several weeks to get back into the time and setting, maybe even longer to find the voice of my characters.

Which brings me to this question—why do writers put themselves through this kind of anguish? Maybe for you there’s a better word; torture, agony, misery? Seriously, some days I’m certain my head will explode if I can’t find thirty minutes of quiet time to write. Crazy. That’s the word. I’m just flat out psycho. We force our brains from reality to daydream, and back again, pushing our physical selves beyond the limit to get everything done so that we can disappear into our make-believe worlds. Does that sound normal to you?

And yet there it is. One chapter, or paragraph, maybe just one sentence. It’s done. It’s the key to the whole plot. Members of your critique group exclaim with excitement; “I love that.”  “Don’t change that. It’s perfect.” “Good job.”  “Send that out right away.” And you do. And it’s a best-seller. And you have legions of fans anxiously waiting for your next book…

Oh, I’m sorry – what was this blog post about? This month has been crazy!

Happy May!