Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Cliché: hump day

Meaning: Wednesday, day mid-week that gets you over the "hump" (example)

Rewrite 1: camel back day
Rewrite 2: road bump day
Rewrite 3: leaf pile day
Rewrite 4: Bell Curve day
Rewrite 5: high jump day
Rewrite 6: leap frog day

Comment: At first I thought of other kinds of humps or bumps or piles you get over, then I thought of obstacles you go over to get to the other side. There are lots of creative ways to say "I'm half way over the week."

Stop by for some conversation on Twitter: @a_copywriter
For when you run out of words
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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Cliché: get into hot water

Meaning: get into trouble (example)

Rewrite: gulp hot coffee
Rewrite: dive into boiling water
Rewrite: skinny dip in a scalding pool
Rewrite: ride some white water
Rewrite: cross a river at a deep spot

Comment: There are lots of ways to use water as a metaphor for getting into trouble and I've attempted to use some of them here.

Come say hello on Twitter: @a_copywriter
How they might say it at sea
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Monday, December 27, 2010

Cliché: hot enough to fry an egg

Meaning: ambient or surface temperature is extreme

Rewrite 1: hot enough to steam an egg
Rewrite 2: hot enough to fry a burger
Rewrite 3: hot enough to grill a cheese sandwich
Rewrite 4: hot enough to broil a steak
Rewrite 5: hot enough to melt steel
Rewrite 6: so hot you could prep s'mores on the sidewalk!

Comment: It's usually said to indicate how hot a surface is, such as a sidewalk or car hood, but it could also apply to how hot the air is or how hot the day is.

Find me on Twitter to share your rewrites: @a_copywriter
More about food and drink in speech
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Friday, December 24, 2010

Cliché: happy holidays

Whatever faith or tradition is dear to you, may you experience the joy of this special season. Merry Christmas. Happy Kwanzaa. Happy Hanukkah. Happy Festivus. Although "happy holidays" has become a cliché in many ways, it is always meant to express wishes for a time of joy in a spirit of good will. 

May peace, good will, and joy be yours now and into the coming new year.

Alan Eggleston (Wordsworth) and family
"How to Slay a Cliché"

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Cliché: horsing around

Meaning: improper, unruly behavior (example)

Rewrite 1: making like caged monkeys
Rewrite 2: running with the fools
Rewrite 3: bouncing around like cage fighters on sugar
Rewrite 4: careening around like a European road rally driver
Rewrite 5: having a Black Friday freak-out

Comment: I always associated this idiom with playful unruliness, but I can see it getting out-of-hand and becoming more destructive, so I've attempted to treat the various degrees of unruliness here. Feel free to take it to whatever extreme you need to fit your need. 

When you're on Twitter, stop by and say hello: @a_copywriter
A little horse sense with idioms
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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Cliché: hook, line, and sinker

Meaning: completely (example)

Rewrite 1: bait, line, and switch
Rewrite 2: site, link, and virus
Rewrite 3: hook, line, and spam
Rewrite 4: text, headline, and disclaimer
Rewrite 5: spine, cover, and pages
Rewrite 6: cereal, box, and special offer

Comment: Although in usage this usually takes on the connotation of "being had," it can also have the more denotative meaning of "getting it all." I tried to cover both here.

Follow me on Twitter: @a_copywriter
The art of the sell
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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Cliché: hit the nail on the head

Meaning: to be exact (example)

Rewrite 1: hit the thumb on the nail
Rewrite 2: slotted the screw square
Rewrite 3: fed the thread through the needle, first try
Rewrite 4: pinned the tail on the donkey square on the ass
Rewrite 5: walked a line so fine even a tailor couldn't stitch cleaner

Comment: This one was a challenge, thinking of other ways to express manual exactitude. What did I miss?

If you're ever on Twitter, stop by and say hello: @a_copywriter
Making it easier to talk carpentry metaphors
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Monday, December 13, 2010

Cliché: hit the hay, to

Meaning: go to bed (example)

Rewrite 1: hit the bale
Rewrite 2: hit the mattress
Rewrite 3: cuddle with the pillows
Rewrite 4: ruffle the linens
Rewrite 5: snuggle in z's
Rewrite 6: join the bed buds

Comment: I went for more colloquial wording here.

I'm on Twitter - follow and say hello! @a_copywriter
Write more picturesquely
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Friday, December 10, 2010

Cliché: hit below the belt, to

Meaning: hurtful, unfair hit (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: going for the groin
Rewrite 2: nuking the no-hit zone
Rewrite 3: knock-out punch between the side pockets
Rewrite 4: aiming for the target of last resort
Rewrite 5: landing one that will make everyone wince 

Comment: This interpretation favors the end-product or area versus the intention. How would you rewrite it differently to suggest someone is intentionally dealing unfairly?

Please say hello on Twitter: @a_copywriter
How to play fair in everyday living
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Thursday, December 09, 2010

Cliché: the left hand doesn't know what the right hand is doing

Meaning: lack of coordination (example)

Rewrite 1: the left hand and right hand refuse to shake
Rewrite 2: the left hand and right hand aren't talking
Rewrite 3: the left hand is signing Latin, the right hand is signing Greek
Rewrite 4: the left hand is lost and the right hand won't ask for directions
Rewrite 5: the left side of the brain doesn't know what the right side of the brain is thinking
Rewrite 6: the cows don't know what the horses are doing

Comment: The last one kind of comes out of left field, but I wanted something different that still illustrated the point.

Give me a shout on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Bringing the hands together
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Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Cliché: his bark is worse than his bite

Meaning: not as big a threat as they sound (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: its growl is worse than its pounce
Rewrite 2: his scream is worse than his karate chop
Rewrite 3: her silence is worse than her slap
Rewrite 4: her threat is worse than her payback
Rewrite 5: the "crack" is worse than the wound

Comment: This covers a wide assortment of situations, evolving from a dog, to a cat, to a Ninja, to a scorned woman, to an angered competitor, to a gun.

Share your example on Twitter: @a_copywriter

(book reference removed)

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Cliché: hindsight is 20-20

Meaning: better seen after the fact (example

Rewrite 1: rear-view vision is 20-20
Rewrite 2: hindsight is keener vision
Rewrite 3: foreseen with perfect hindsight
Rewrite 4: seen with the precision of past experience
Rewrite 5: this time you'd do it with prescience
Rewrite 6: rose tinted glasses have nothing on lenses calibrated for the past

Comment: This one was immeasurably harder to rewrite than I imagined. How would you rewrite it?

Also share your thoughts on Twitter: @a_copywriter

Revising fiction
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Thursday, November 04, 2010

Cliché: highway robbery

Meaning: overly high fees (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: bank mugging
Rewrite 2: credit card hold-up
Rewrite 3: middle class jacking
Rewrite 4: desperation taxation
Rewrite 5: economic pickpocketing

Comment: Rather than trying to parallel each part of the original terms as I often do, this time I tried to stay true to the sense of the whole idiom and recast that.

Do you tweet? Come sing on Twitter: @a_copywriter
More about writing and money
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Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Cliché: high maintenance

Meaning: needs a lot of care/attention (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: High steady-state rate
Rewrite 2: High keeping-up-with-the-Joneses mantra
Rewrite 3: Max-out-the-cards care
Rewrite 4: Major wallet-drain pain
Rewrite 5: 24-karat spending habit 

Comment: At first, I had trouble with this one. I was on the verge of putting it off for another time, when I suddenly found my stride. 

Give me your 2-cents worth here and on Twitter: @a-copywriter

Learn about high-maintenance relationships
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Friday, October 29, 2010

Cliché: high as a kite

Meaning:  intoxicated (example)

Rewrite 1: High as a crop duster
Rewrite 2: High as a loon
Rewrite 3: Tumbling in the clouds
Rewrite 4: Partying past Everest
Rewrite 5: Flying with the Shuttle

Comment: I tried to give some sense of the euphoria of intoxication accompanied with a sense of being above board. Some of it has a double entendre nature to it. How would you rewrite or recast this cliché and keep its dual nature? 

Feel free to discuss this on Twitter, too: @a_copywriter

More double entendres
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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Cliché: hen pecked

Meaning: males harassed by females (example)

Rewrite 1: sow slopped
Rewrite 2: bitch nipped
Rewrite 3: ewe butted
Rewrite 4: lioness mauled
Rewrite 5: apron whipped

Comment: I tried to stay with the female of the species until the last item, and then I tried to pick up on something that species would do to grapple with one of their own species.

Comment here or pop in for a comment on Twitter: @a_copywriter

Life with family animals
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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Cliché: heard it through the grapevine

Meaning: gossip, "news" heard from unofficial sources (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: heard it at the watercooler
Rewrite 2: received it on e-mail
Rewrite 3: rd it on txt
Rewrite 4: saw it on Facebook (or Twitter)
Rewrite 5: read it on Drudge
Rewrite 6: Saw it on E!

Comment: Some an updating of "technology" from grapevine to social media.

Say hello via Twitter: @a_copywriter
Legal ins and outs for writing about entertainment industry
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Cliché: heads up!

Meaning: Be alert, be watchful (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: eyes open!
Rewrite 2: ears piqued!
Rewrite 3: blinders off!
Rewrite 4: on-off switches "on"!
Rewrite 5: plugs in the wall!

Comment: This is generally about keeping alert, being aware, but I thought it might also be about watching out for things we might overlook.

Share your thoughts on Twitter: @a_copywriter
More idioms to profit by
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Monday, October 25, 2010

Cliché: head over heels

Meaning: excited; turning bodyflips or cartwheels (example)

Rewrite 1: noggin over joggin
Rewrite 2: cap over socks
Rewrite 3: helmet over cleats
Rewrite 4: nose over toes
Rewrite 5: knees over shoulders

Comment: Most of these are just another way of saying the same thing, although I did at least change the general terms and order a bit. It might have been fun to say something more like "knocked into body flips" or "rolling like a Catherine's wheel."

Please stop by on Twitter and say hello: @a_copywriter
How the pros write about sports
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Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Cliché: he's toast

meaning: facing certain defeat (example - be toast

Rewrite 1: he's month-old biscuit
Rewrite 2: he's burnt bacon
Rewrite 3: he's melted ice
Rewrite 4: he's overdosed on Tobasco
Rewrite 5: he's past his use-by date

Comment: These all relate to food in different states of disaster. What other metaphors might you explore?

Share your thoughts on Twitter: @a_copywriter

Women and food
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Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Cliché: egg on your face, have

Meaning: embarrassed or look stupid (example

Rewrite 1: catsup on your chin
Rewrite 2: soup on your tie
Rewrite 3: ink in your pocket
Rewrite 4: price tag on your sleeve
Rewrite 5: tear in your trousers

Comment: I tried to think of little accidents of which one might be caught unaware that would make you look foolish. What other kinds of situations might be embarrassing that could be expressed in this kind of cliché?

Share you thoughts with me on Twitter: @a_copywriter

Writing for well-being
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Monday, October 11, 2010

Cliché: harebrained idea

Meaning: foolish, poorly thought out (example)

Rewrite 1: squirrelbrained idea
Rewrite 2: muttbrained idea
Rewrite 3: teenbrained idea
Rewrite 4: blondebrained idea
Rewrite 5: football-without-a-helmetbrained idea

Comment: These all tend to be the more stereotyped weak-minded-folk examples, but we all know that they don't apply to everyone in these groups. I encourage you to come up with better examples and share them here.

Stop by my place on Twitter and say hello: @a_copywiter

Writing to generate great ideas
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Friday, October 08, 2010

Cliché: hammered

Meaning: drunk (example)

Rewrite 1: ball-peened
Rewrite 2: nail-headed
Rewrite 3: bat-beaned
Rewrite 4: slammed silly
Rewrite 5: beer-whacked
Rewrite 6: shot slappy

Comments: I would like to have worked in being splattered or hit between the eyes with a 2 by 4 or something more evocative, but this list should do for a starter. What can you come up with?

Say "Hi!" on Twitter: @a_copywriter

Writing about construction?
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Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cliché: hardheaded

Meaning: hard to get through to or to effect change (example)

Rewrite 1: cement headed
Rewrite 2: steel haired
Rewrite 3: mind with the welcome mat turned upside down
Rewrite 4: brain with the access panel welded shut
Rewrite 5: opinions guarded better than the vault at Fort Knox

Comment: There is a sense of this idiom which is quite literal, but mostly it means stubborn; thus, the rewrites about close-mindedness. 

Share your thoughts with me on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Speaking of stubborn opinions
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Cliché: hard to swallow

Meaning: hard to believe or accept (example)

Rewrite 1: hard to chew
Rewrite 2: difficult load to lift
Rewrite 3: cumbersome package to carry
Rewrite 4: hard to hoe
Rewrite 5: rocky bit of earth to dig

Comment: There are actually a lot of interesting ways to recast this idiom, depending on the situation. I'll bet you can find even more inventive ways to reword this bitter spoonful of medicine.

Say hello on Twitter: @a_copywriter
If you've ever thought of writing about food
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Monday, July 26, 2010

Cliché: happy as a clam at full tide

Meaning: contented (example)

Rewrite 1: happy as a worm at the bottom of the compost pile
Rewrite 2: happy as moth with a fresh beam of light
Rewrite 3: happy as a cat with a full ball of yarn
Rewrite 4: happy as a dog at an archeological dig
Rewrite 5: happy as a cow greeted with a warm pair of hands

Comment: Unlike "happy as a lark" this isn't about unabated happiness, this is about satisfaction and contentment. So the rewrites or recasts should be about situations where the subject has either found himself/herself in an unusual situation or an ecstatic moment. I'd love to see what you come up with.

Tweet me: @a_copywriter
Talking about nature...
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

Cliché: happy as a lark

Meaning: happy and full of life (example)

Rewrite 1: hamming it up like a hummingbird
Rewrite 2: frolicsome as a goldfinch
Rewrite 3: nutty as a nuthatch
Rewrite 4: carefree as a canary
Rewrite 5: boisterous as a bronco

Comment: Although this idiom is more about acting happy and carefree, it can also be about being free and noisy - thus, the final rewrite. You're only limited by the sense in which you need to express the metaphor.

Follow me on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Getting creative about nature writing 
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

Cliché: happy camper

Meaning: an easily satisfied person or easily made comfortable (example)

Rewrite 1: elated outdoorsman
Rewrite 2: blissful backpacker
Rewrite 3: contented tent stalker
Rewrite 4: smiling sleepingbagger
Rewrite 5: smug smooresman

Comment: To recreate the flavor of this idiom I think you need to relate back to the essence of the camping experience. The more you can blend them into the language the closer you will come to capturing its spirit.

Tell me about it on Twitter: @a_copywriter
The language of camping
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My internship for sporting goods dealer: More than just writing about camping equipment

Monday, July 12, 2010

Cliché: haste makes waste

Meaning: acting too quickly brings ruin (example)

Rewrite 1: urgency creates emergencies
Rewrite 2: speed up and screw up
Rewrite 3: quickly makes sickly
Rewrite 4: fast is surpassed
Rewrite 5: pressed for time means messed on design

Comment: This is one of those idioms that's popular partly because of its rhyme, so I tried to stay with that attitude while I was rewriting. See what you can come up with.

Tweet me: @a_copywriter 
Writing with rhyme and reason
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Friday, July 09, 2010

Cliché: half-baked idea, a

Meaning: an idea or concept not completely thought through (example

Rewrite 1: half-boiled idea
Rewrite 2: half-stirred suggestion
Rewrite 3: half-primed plan
Rewrite 4: half-dressed thought
Rewrite 5: half-knotted scheme
Rewrite 6: barely seared concept

Comment: Although many of these rewrites are cooking related I did try to vary the metaphor. They are all related to ideas, but I'm betting you can think of some other applications for applying this idiom.

Share your rewrites with all of us in Comments. Stop by and say hello on Twitter: @a_copywriter 
More words on food
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Thursday, July 01, 2010

Cliché: go belly up, to

Meaning: failure, bankruptcy, even death (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: tank with the fishes
Rewrite 2: suffer a goldfish swirly
Rewrite 3: go all rigor mortise on us
Rewrite 4: time in the elephant burial grounds
Rewrite 5: headed for the hereafter

Comment: It's hard to write metaphorically about the death of something without sounding maudlin or even insensitive. I tried to cover various caricatures of death for more picturesque speech. 

How would you twist this one? Send me a shout-out via Twitter: @a_copywriter
Writing about death
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