I often read blogs where writers are told to avoid overused expressions like the plague. That would mean that all idiomatic and figurative language are off the table. The arguments are that triteness weakens prose and that readers gloss over anything overused. In my humble opinion, there are ways to update cliches so that they resonate, more often than not to humorous effect.
To prove my point, here are a few recognizable examples of successful, reworked clichés:
–Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels (freshened from the original idiom “lock, stock and barrel,” meaning everything or every part of the weapon.)
–Orange is the New Black (freshened from two common sayings: “the new black” and “something is the new something.”)
–My Sister’s Keeper (freshened from the biblical passage “Am I my brother’s keeper?”)
Some examples or reworked clichés from my writing:
Cliché: kick to the curb
Rewrite: The next day, from the gabled walk-out porch off their bedroom, Jill admired her perfectly manicured lawn. It took her less than five minutes to kick Fred’s sorry ass to the other side of it.
Cliché: equal parts, most often found in recipes
Rewrite: Jill sidled up to the armrest on her sister’s hand-me-down couch—which she hypothesized was filled with equal parts stuffing and dust mites—and something crackled below her.
Cliché: workhorse AND battle-axe
Rewrite: She assumed that was code for, HR is making me take it easy on you, because under usual circumstances, she was the workhorse to his battle-axe.
This post is part of the #AuthorToolboxBlogHop. So many great blogs to keep hopping through. Click here to join the hop and to see what other writing tips you can glean from this month’s edition.
I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments. Do you agree or disagree with my logic? Can you refresh one of these these tired expressions? Deer in headlights, needle in a haystack, steal someone’s thunder, bite the dust, better late than never, recipe for disaster, death by a thousand cuts, built like a tank, fall on your sword…or any other cliché?