Thursday, June 23, 2011

Cliché: jockeying for position

Meaning: racing/competing for position (example 1, example2)

Rewrite 1: jockeying for show, place, or win
Rewrite 2: dancing for last couple standing
Rewrite 3: elbowing for a place in the line
Rewrite 4: fighting over bargains at the sale
Rewrite 5: toe-stretching for tallest

Comment: This really boils down to competition, and there are many ways to win. How would you reword it?

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Write like a good sport
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Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Cliché: a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step

Meaning: the longest, most arduous task still has a beginning (example)

Rewrite: a walk of a thousand steps begins with the first footfall
Rewrite: a cross-country drive begins as a drive down the street
Rewrite: a day at the shoppe begins by stepping out of the house
Rewrite: a read of a thousand pages begins with a single word
Rewrite: a lengthy shopping list still begins with the first item
Rewrite: cleaning a big mess begins by mopping the first spill

Comment: Part of preserving the essence of this Chinese proverb is repeating its sensibility and rhythm.

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More Chinese wisdom
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Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Cliché: jump on the bandwagon

Meaning: get with what is popular (example)

Rewrite: leap onto the stage
Rewrite: get your name on the winner's list
Rewrite: get all military in the march
Rewrite: take the top spot in the parade
Rewrite: show your groove on the holiday float

Comment: Part of this idiom is about support, part of it is about grabbing your moment in the spotlight. 

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Writing with wit
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Monday, June 20, 2011

Cliché: jump in with both feet

Meaning: do something quickly and completely (example)

Rewrite: leap in with both feet
Rewrite: jump in with all fours
Rewrite: commit without counting toes
Rewrite: leave no toe behind
Rewrite: plant both heels firmly into it

Comment: I tried to keep the foot metaphor alive in the idiom. How would you rewrite this?

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More on idioms
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Friday, June 17, 2011

Cliché: jack of all trades and a master of none, a

Meaning: average talent with no special skills

Rewrite 1: a mean hauler of sails who can't tie off a knot
Rewrite 2: he can swing a mean hammer but can't hit a nail
Rewrite 3: all tool belt and no tools
Rewrite 4: good at coloring inside the box but can't stay in the lines
Rewrite 5: Mr. Handy, Mr. Thumbs

Comment: A "jack" was an average seaman while a "master" was a highly skilled craftsman on a ship, so this idiom originates with the early sea service. A jack might be good at doing general duties on ship, but he wouldn't be rated a master until he could do extraordinary work. I started by trying to rewrite these to give some sense of those skills or lack of said, then generalized from there.

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Sounding like a sea dog
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Thursday, June 16, 2011

Cliché: it's a game of inches

Meaning: a sport or effort with minimal gains or losses

Rewrite 1: it's a game of small advances
Rewrite 2: it's a game of not-quite-theres
Rewrite 3: it's a contest of minor gains
Rewrite 4: it's a match of major disappointments
Rewrite 5: it's a sport of near misses

More possible rewrites:

Rewrite 6: a game of barely movable objects
Rewrite 7: a game of well planted heels
Rewrite 8: a game of well defended options
Rewrite 9: a game of steel-staked positions
Rewrite 10: a game of hard fought lines
Rewrite 11: a contest of won'ts
Rewrite 12: a match between wills

Comment: This was a tough rewrite for me, trying to find new ways to recast the "inches" in a meaningful way. In the end, I decided to redefine the end-product and not the measurement. In the send batch of rewrites, I wrote about less sports-related efforts. Where would you have taken this?

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Speaking of sports
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