Of Cliches and Writing Prompts

I recently scanned a list of 681 clichés a writer should never use use. Absolutely passé, we’re told. No longer can you upset the apple cart, keep all your eggs in one basket, or bark up the wrong tree.

Woe is me! I LIKE some of those old expressions; they said so much in so few words. Replacing them is going to be a challenge.

As we toss out the old folk wisdom, I suppose our next expressions — and we will want them — will come mainly from screenwriters and witty sit-coms. And phrases will get old faster; some of the lines we heard back in the 70s are already considered clichés.

Anyway, “too many irons in the fire” isn’t on the list yet, so I can say that I’ve added another iron to my fire, another pot to bubble merrily on my hearth.

Pots.Pexels
Pexels – Pixabay

Or how about, “I’m growing another succulent in my bowl”?

Succulents.katerina zhang
KaterinaZhang- Pixabay

Starting tomorrow, December 1st, I’ll be supplying the prompt word over at Ragtag Daily Prompt every Sunday morning. I hope you will all to pop over and check out what prompt I’ve come up with. 🙂

You’re all welcome to join in: write a response to the prompt, post it, and add your link to the comments.

Fresh White World

“White, White, My World is White…”

Fandango’s one-word challenge: BECAUSE

Our world looks so different this morning because we’ve had a night of pure, fluffy snow.

Ragtag Daily Prompt : WINTER

After a week of spring-like weather, with temperatures descending for the last couple of days, Winter has returned to our land in all its glory. If it were sunny today, we could almost go snow-blind; instead, the sky is almost as white as the blanket of snow.

Your Daily Word prompt: OPTIMUM

Snowfalls like this afford our son-in-law some optimum earning opportunities. He has some contracts for clearing snow, so I imagine he’ll have risen early this morning and gotten his snow-removal equipment on the road.

Word of the Day prompt: RADICAL

When I got up this morning, instead of having my first cup of coffee and keeping warm inside, I responded radically: I threw on my housecoat and went out to sweep off the decks and stairs. You see, we have two cats that are eager to go outside and look around first thing every morning and they need a snow-free place to sit. Guess you could call me a super-indulgent pet owner.

Speaking of radical, have you noticed the drastic change in my blog header and background? The world was white before I signed off last night, plus US Thanksgiving is officially over, so I changed — seasonalized, if that’s a word — the appearance of my blog. What do you think of my new look?

And when I saw the various prompt words this morning, I decided that they’d all fit in a prompt about our weather, except…

Your Daily Word Prompt: WREN

There are NO wrens anywhere in this land. Every wren with a brain in his tiny little skull will be passing the next five months in some sunny clime, along with almost every other small nesting bird that spends summer here. We’re stuck with the dull English sparrows and the magpies, whose bold black & white doesn’t do much to cheer up our landscape. Maybe several blue jays will come back again this winter?

Blue Jay.cropped.jpg
Pixabay

Now I shall take optimum advantage of this winter morning by addressing some Christmas cards because that season is almost upon us. This will be a radical departure from my usual Dec 20th mailing. 🙂

I hope you’re all enjoying your day, whatever your weather.

Disillusioned!

I’ve heard that you shouldn’t believe everything you read, so maybe this article isn’t true. Maybe this lady doesn’t really post five-star reviews on Amazon for stuff she’s never tried. The article is fiction — or at least distortion of the facts.

But maybe it is true. Maybe she does. And maybe there are dozens of others like her?

If today’s writing challenge were the word Dismayed, Dishonest, False, or even Phony, I’d have an easier time launching into this. But the Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is PASSAGE.

Well then, I’ve just made a swift passage from credulity to incredulity.

When I turn on my computer in the morning I get a selection of interesting news articles to choose from. This morning BuzzFeed News offered an intriguing headline about  someone who writes fake reviews of products and posts them on Amazon. READ IT HERE.

Those of us who write and have books listed on Amazon know how important reviews are. Potential readers scan the lists of books in their genre and decide — often based on reviews left by other readers — whether the book is worth their reading time. And I know there was a time when friends, relatives, and fans of this particular writer would load Amazon with glowing reviews. At times, having read the book myself, I’d shake my head and scroll down a page, where I’d see more honest reviews. “Poorly written,” “needs editing,” “grammar mistakes and typos,” “limp characters.”

Amazon has weeded out a lot of these reviews by ruling that only VERIFIED PURCHASERS may review and NO REVIEWS IN EXCHANGE FOR a free book or an equally glowing review of the other writer’s book. There was a time when small companies could make a profit by selling reviews to authors. Now the rule is NO PAID REVIEWS.

But I gather from the article I’ve just read that there are loopholes and some people are finding quite lucrative ones. Free products and even financial reimbursements from the advertiser, lots of freebies that make good gifts for friends.

While she may make some negative comments, the Reviewer in this article gives five-star reviews on all products, not matter what she actually thinks of them — or if she even tries them. But one day a co-worker asked about a product she’d reviewed and she admitted this is simply a way to get freebies and make a bit on the side. The coworker was disappointed that the review wasn’t honest.

“I definitely feel like I have to keep it a secret from people who have strong morals,” the Reviewer told the article writer.

She admits that for safety reasons she’s afraid to try some electrical devices from lands afar, but gives them a good review anyway. Her boyfriend’s a chemist and has discovered toxic ingredients in some skin care products, so she’s leery of trying them.

According to the article, a lot of her business is with small businesses in China—often claiming to be family-owned. Companies want to get their products taken seriously on Amazon and some are willing to cheat to do it, reimbursing purchasers and even paying a small fee. Sadly, where not-quite-honest people are looking for some small passage through the tangle of rules, they will find it somehow.

Oh, buyer beware!

Words Hard to Work with

The Ragtag Daily Prompt word today is Imperceptible.

This is an interesting word, but a poor choice for a writer’s tool box. Imperceptible means not perceived, neither by the senses — like something no one can see, smell, hear or feel — nor by the understanding. Something sort of “not-there-but-hovering somewhere-awaiting-some-reveal.”

It’s a word writers tend to work around somehow, seeing they have to show in some way, or let their character sense, the emotion or object. Our hero can’t go out in the rain and not see, smell, hear, or feel it, and still somehow know that it’s raining. Likewise they can’t sense a frown or a sneering tone. So authors are inclined to tack “barely” and “almost” onto the word:

 “We expect you gone by sundown, stranger.” Kid Goodson caught the almost imperceptible menace in Black Bart’s tone.
A frown, barely perceptible, darkened the Kid’s brow. “I’m not leaving until I find out what I want to know.” He tossed the bartender two silver dollars and walked out. His ear caught the almost imperceptible sigh of Sally Saloon-Wench.

The thing is, if no one perceives the whatever, there’s not much point in mentioning it, either, unless as a narrator-to-reader aside:

 Indignation, as yet imperceptible to Kid Goodson, was simmering in the bosoms of the town folks. Looks were exchanged and heads silently shook as unspoken sentiments were shared by the listeners. They weren’t going to stand for a show-down in their streets.

No, imperceptible isn’t a word story writers are apt to employ very often. News commentators, on the other hand, may use it at times.

Initially the jury seemed completely swayed by Slick Lawyer’s defense presentation, but at some point an imperceptible shift took place. When the jurors returned from deliberation the defense was shocked to hear their unanimous. “We find the defendant guilty as charged.”

 “While Governor Lord ruled the state, the majority of voters seemed quite content to let him. However, when his successor Tyson Rant took office, an imperceptible grassroots discontent soon began to make itself felt.”

Like smouldering coals, feelings aren’t usually unperceived for very long. Sooner or later Ty Rant is going to see signs of that grassroots discontent.
 “One day the Governor found a dozen dead ducks on his doorstep. The next day university students staged a sit-in on his lawn. A week later farmers blockaded his driveway with hay bales while old ladies carried protest signs and boys pelted his house with rotten tomatoes.
 “Slowly, almost imperceptibly, he became aware that his constituents just weren’t happy with him.”

And thus ends my discourse on this unusual word.

Light Laughter

I regret that I missed doing Crimson’s challenge last week. I even had a good little tale…but may get to use it some other time. And my response this week will be a light verse, as I’m still deep in my ATCUSS project. (A Total Clean-Up of my Sewing Space.)

I’m keeping tract of everything I do so when the end of the month comes I’ll have a record to show for my efforts. So far I’m pleased with what I’ve accomplished. I’ve cleaned up drawers, pieced two blanket tops for our Sewing Circle (which is cheating, as it’s not exactly MY sewing but they’ll be happy), did minor mends on 3 garments, and turned four fraying collars on hubby’s shirts. (Does anyone else do that any more?) Then he decided to catch the flow and bought two more pairs of pants I needed to hem, and now a suit, of which the pants need some adjusting. Today’s project.

It’s been really cold here this week: -20 C this morning and we have a light dusting of snow. Two evenings ago I had a treat: looking out the west window I saw the great horned owl perched in a tree just back of our garage. All puffed up — one HUGE bird! When I see him around I make sure both our cats are inside. I’ve heard rumors…

Now back to the prompts. The Word-of-the-Day prompt this morning is LIGHT, and Crimson’s Challenge #52 is the following photo:
https://crimsonprose.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/flixton.jpg

My response:

zephyrs rustle
the fallen leaves — your light laughter
my stale jokes

The Night of Feathers

Here’s Sammi’s weekend writing prompt, and my response:

AURORA BOREALIS

The northern lights took the form of giant feather plumes that night, and I, alone in the house, felt sheltered and comforted under the heavenly glow rippling above.

Northern lights.ansgar scheffold
Pixabay image from Ansgar Scheffold

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

This actually happened one night some years back. Edgy because my husband was away on a trip, I glanced outside around midnight and saw a lot of lights in the eastern sky. I went outside to get a better look and discovered that the aurora was not only in the north and east, but completely circled our village in the sky above. I’ve never seen northern lights in the south before and probably never will again. Others who also saw them commented on how spectacular, and how widespread, they were that night.

Of course I thought of angel feathers, then the Bible verse:
“He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” Psalm 91:4