Use catch-phrase when creating a character

When writing your story, you’ll want each of the major characters to be distinct. One of achieving that, especially in genre fiction, is to give a couple of the characters catch-phrases.

A catch-phrase is a short and memorable word or a phrase that a character repeats at apt times. Examples include Mr. Spock’s “Fascinating”, Dr. McCoy’s “I’m a doctor, not a …”, and Sherlock Holmes’ “Elementary, Dear Watson.”

A good catch phrase helps establish the character’s personality. “Fascinating” shows that Mr. Spock is innately curious, “I’m a doctor, not a …” establishes Dr. McCoy as a curmudgeon, and “Elementary, Dear Watson” indicates Sherlock Holmes is a genius.

Don’t overuse a catch-phrase in a story. A catch-phrase is just one of many techniques used to build a character. In addition, overuse leads to the catch-phrase becoming campy, diminishing its effectiveness.


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.