When I worked a temp job at a marketing firm, my coworker would utter the phrase, “for those of you playing at home” at least once a day. For example, she would say, “I found out it will cost $2500 to repair my transmission. For those of you playing at home, that’s a month’s pay.” It was her catchphrase, the identifier that set her conversation apart.

Most television show characters have their own catchphrase. My daughter likes to watch The Backyardigans, and her favorite character is Tasha the hippo. Tasha likes to say, “Oh, for goodness’ sake” at least once per episode. If you’ve ever endured an episode of The Wonder Pets, then you know the answer to “What’s gonna work?” (ALL TOGETHER NOW: “TEAMWORK!!”) And the list goes on and on…

Frequently used phrases, or FUPs, take this concept one step further. Fups are a kind of shorthand for communication. One of my biggest FUPs is from the movie Rebel Without a Cause: “What’re we going to do with Moo?” My husband and I use this when discussing my daughter, like “So, guess who didn’t take a nap today?” “Really? Well, what’re we going to do with moo?” When we talk about doing something without fearing consequences, we say “with impunity.” As in, “You can pay that bill with impunity, because I deposited my paycheck.” And the list goes on and on…

I like to give my characters, if not catchphrases (which can get annoying) at least a few FUPs. It makes them recognizable, familiar–more real, I think. What FUPs do you use? Do you incorporate FUPs and catchphrases into your writing, or do you feel like they can be too big of a crutch?

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