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.

Wise-Crackers Everywhere

The Word of the Day prompt for today is UBIQUITOUS, so I’ll re-post this humorous item as my response:

Wise-crackers are ubiquitous. If you don’t believe me, just use a word with more than one meaning. Someone is sure to pop a joke on you.

If in sympathy for neighbour Mabel’s gout, I should happen to let slip a “Poor Mabel,” someone is sure to comment that “Mabel just got back from a two week trip to Bermuda. So she can’t be that poor.”

If I chance to say, “I forgot to feed the fish” I’m apt to hear, “Feed them to the cat. Then you’ll never forget again.”

The other day when I said I was going to pick up some flour at the store, dear hubby had to say it: “But not another African violet. We have a dozen already.”

Last week when I had such a nasty cold, I told my Dad that my nose was running constantly. “Better watch it,” he said. “If it takes up jogging you’ll really be in trouble.” You can just imagine what I’d hear if I admitted that my foot went to sleep.

Sigh…

Even the poor innocent children get dragged into this. My sister snickered when I told her “I sent some cookies with the boys in sandwich bags.” Really! She knew what I meant.

Last week we were invited to my cousin’s for supper. As we sat around the table, someone mentioned reading that City Council was hatching a plan for a new Civic Services Administration Building. Uncle Harry was right on it. “How many Counselors does it take to hatch a white elephant? And how are they going to pay for this?”

My cousin’s five-year old, eyes aglow, piped up, “They could sell rides on the elephant. Then they would get lots of money.” By now I’m sure the tots at her playschool have heard all about it and are clamouring for their white elephant rides. Which proves that old adage: Small pitchers have big ears.

Is there no nostrum, no magic elixir for this aggravating ailment? Yesterday I told a friend, “We had Joe & Jane for Sunday dinner.”

And she–my very best friend!–asked, “Baked or fried?”

Writers & Clichés

An Exercise For Your Muse

Writers nowadays are urged to avoid overworked clichés. I’ve seen some writers come up with interesting metaphors and similes to replace the standard ones, but one must be careful that the new phrases don’t seem contrived.

You can say, “She was as angry as a picknicker when ants carried off the peach pie,” for “She was as mad as a wet hen,” but are you gaining? Instead of, “He was chomping at the bit,” you could say “He was like the guy with an appointment, waiting for a never-ending train,” but it’ll shoot up your word count.

At a writer’s group meeting one day we received sheets with old clichés or idioms. We were to pass them around and substitute something original to replace the old and overworked. In the course of sorting old papers I came across one of these this morning, so I’ll post it for you readers to ponder:

How would you modernize ‘He can’t see the forest for the trees’?

Some suggestions offered by our group:
The literal approach:
— He’s so close to the problem he can’t see the answer.
— Missing the broad point of view, he’s distracted by unimportant things.
— He needs to take a step back and get a better perspective.

The figurative approach:
— The fog is hiding the water.
— He couldn’t see the moon for the flock of geese.

Which would you choose — any other suggestions — or would you been inclined, in your own writing, to stick with the original since it’s so well know?