On my flight to Seattle, I read a book by a bestselling author. The plotting was good but the dialogue was so unbearably cliche-ridden that I left the book behind on the plane. I couldn’t bear to continue reading it. Here’s an example (the character names have been removed to protect the guilty):
"Your deal will be history if you don’t make sure this goes off without a hitch. Blow this and you’ll wish you were in a cell with XYZ and a blowtorch. When we get to DC, we are going to have a come-to-Jesus meeting. The next time you make the slightest wave you are going to find yourself up shit creek. Is that clear?"
I count, conservatively, four cliches in that paragragh alone (not counting the character himself was a cliche). There were pages and pages like that. The book did make me wonder about one thing — what’s the magic sales figure you’ve got to hit before editors stop bothering to edit your work?