Today, after I had edited some of my free-writing, I found that I used a number of common phrases, phrases such as "in the sight of God," phrases I think to be short of my stylistic aim -- to author prose of high and literary quality -- as I think this objective necessitates the use of novel phrases alone. And I reckon that, in a few short pieces, written by me three years ago, I used original phrases all throughout. But, at present likely unskilled with this, I ask the following questions.

How do I strengthen my skill with the stringing together of novel phrases, and, does writing in a high and literary style require the omission of common ones?

Thank you for answering.

  • 1
    "In the sight of God" isn't a common phrase. I have never once in my life said or thought it. —— I have read several of your questions now. All are written in a convoluted style that is often hard to understand. Usually I have to read your questions several times to make sense of them. If that is how you want to write your literature, that is your decision. But why do you have to write your everyday communication, as on this site, in that recondite manner, too? Can you not write in plain standard common English? Reading your questions is both arduous and irritating to me.
    – Ben
    Mar 5 at 6:10
  • "In the sight of God" is an existing phrase and is found in existing prose.
    – garbia
    Mar 5 at 8:08
  • It is an old-fashioned phrase that may have been common once but is certainly no longer common today. Look at the distribution of its usage over time on Google Ngrams: books.google.com/ngrams/…. Using that phrase in your writing today is everything but common. It may not be original, but it is without a doubt not how the average writer today would write.
    – Ben
    Mar 5 at 9:45
  • So are you saying that I can use it or that I can't use it?
    – garbia
    Mar 5 at 9:50
  • I didn't intend to write in a convoluted manner, but in a somewhat sophisticated one, and didn't see how convoluted it was until I read it again this morning. I had been attending, neither to the proximity of my modifiers to the words they modify, nor to the structural clearness of my sentences. I believe these things were the problems with my post, making it convoluted. I'm sure it has nothing to do with their lengths.
    – garbia
    Mar 5 at 10:21

1 Answer 1


We are taught to avoid clichés in writing, but we don't have to avoid all 'common phrases' if that phrase is the simplest and most natural way to say something. If somebody went to a shop to buy a loaf of bread, it would be absurd to say that they "entered the emporium to purchase the staff of life" just because you think you always have to be original!

  • What about phrasing my prose to give it a harmonious, perhaps rhythmic sound which is asthetically pleasing?
    – garbia
    Mar 5 at 20:07
  • I forgot to mention the more voice like aspect of prose style. What about striving to write in a certain kind of voice?
    – garbia
    Mar 5 at 20:35

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