A few days ago I received feedback on my manuscript from a couple of beta readers and one comment surprised me. Apparently, I have an “it’s complicated” problem. My first reaction was “whhuuuutttt?” Especially since that’s a phrase I really, really don’t like.
So why would I have my character say it?
Granted, the characters in my books are not me. Some have similar traits—Maia in The Day The Merry-Go-Round Stopped, for example, also has long crazy curls, loves carousels and talks to her dead grandmother (before anyone calls the guys with the white jackets, my grandmother does not talk back)—but they are not telling my story, just a story that my overactive brain came up with. That still doesn’t explain, though, why I would choose to use a phrase that makes me grind my teeth when I hear it.
Then yesterday the answer talked my ear off the entire way home from school. My seven year old was explaining some game they were playing during recess. The more he talked, the less sense it made. And apparently my face made that perfectly clear. He huffed and said, “It’s complicated, mom.”
Well poop. Apparently the answer to Maia’s love for that phrase wasn’t as complicated to figure out as I’d thought it would be. Getting Maia to stop saying it is proving much easier than getting the seven year old to stop though.
Do you have any favorite—or not so favorite but overly used—phrases? And do you know where they came from?