Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Cliché: go through the motions

Meaning: half-hearted or faked effort (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: go through the commotions
Rewrite 2: pull a slight-of-motivation
Rewrite 3: deliver a hand puppet effort
Rewrite 4: pull a dead rabbit out of his hat
Rewrite 5: give it less than he's got

Comment: The idea here is to suggest how little life or earnestness there is in the effort. I thought adding a suggestion of sleight-of-hand or faked magic might be interesting, too.

How would you rewrite it? Give me a shout on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Speaking of magic
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Friday, June 25, 2010

Cliché: go for broke

Meaning: to risk or bet everything; try with all your might (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: throw in the house and kids
Rewrite 2: go for tilt
Rewrite 3: bet to win the poorhouse
Rewrite 4: sweat half dollars
Rewrite 5: arrrr! till you pop an artery

Comment: Look at this arsenal of rewrites as walking the full line of meanings, from risk to betting to effort. Man, I'm tired!

Tell me what you would have said. I'm on Twitter:@a_copywriter
Living on the edge
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Friday, June 18, 2010

Cliché: don't give a hoot, I

Meaning: don't care about something (example 1example 2)

Rewrite 1: don't give a tweet
Rewrite 2: don't give a bee's buzz
Rewrite 3: don't give a donkey's bray
Rewrite 4: don't give a leaf's chance in a gale
Rewrite 5: don't give a dwarf's wink in a toss 

Comment: The last recast of this cliché is probably more appropriate to "midget tossing," but I like the way the words work together better in this use.

What rewrites have you thought to use? Share them on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Nature writing
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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Cliché: glutton for punishment, a

Meaning: someone who relishes in difficulty (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: porker for punishment
Rewrite 2: pigging out on trouble
Rewrite 3: foodie for foolishness
Rewrite 4: bon vivant for burden
Rewrite 5: homesick for the hostile

Comment: The synonyms for "glutton" tend toward the gourmand, but the realistic side of this cliché is that these are people who over consume rather than enjoy the finer elements of something. That's why I've rewritten toward that aspect. You might need to work on the other.

Share what you come up with - I'm on Twitter: @a_copywriter
For when you want to write well on food
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Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Cliché: gloss over, to

Meaning: to minimize the ugly with the prettier (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: do a paint job
Rewrite 2: cover the dents and bumps
Rewrite 3: brick over the chasm
Rewrite 4: cover the thorns with rose pedals
Rewrite 5: soften the sow with face powder
Rewrite 6: cover ugly with ylgu (better written than said)

Comment: Part of my attempt to recast this cliché was to restate the idiom in another way, part of it was to restate the purpose suggested behind the words. Let me know what you come up with.

Share your thoughts on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Quoting from your feminine side
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Monday, June 14, 2010

Cliché: give my right arm

Meaning: trade something very valuable for something else (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: give my right hand
Rewrite 2: sell my right eye
Rewrite 3: barter the right side of my brain
Rewrite 4: trade my first-born child
Rewrite 5: give my winning lottery ticket
Rewrite 6: deal now and I'll double the offer - both my right and left arms

Comment: This presupposes someone favors their right side of anything - you can easily change these to the left if you're left handed or left sided.

Stop by on Twitter and share your rewrites with me: @a_copywriter
Add humor to your writing
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Cliché: get your foot in the door

Meaning: keep the opportunity alive (example)

Rewrite 1: block the door open
Rewrite 2: get past the door
Rewrite 3: keep the door and the mind open
Rewrite 4: the door is the sack but the chair is the completed pass
Rewrite 5: get your behind in the interview chair

Comment: Most of these cliché recasts center more on the job interview, but many can apply to sales calls and other situations where you want to get past a gatekeeper and before a potential "sale."

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If you are trying to edge your way through the door
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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Cliché: get your feet wet

Meaning: do or experience something for the first time (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: put a hair out of place
Rewrite 2: get your clothes dirty
Rewrite 3: nick your tools a little
Rewrite 4: get the shovel dirty
Rewrite 5: knock the shine off the nail head
Rewrite 6: put some dents in the chrome

Comment: Most of these are about first-time experiences, but many of them could also be about letting go of inhibitions - which the cliché could also be about. Sometimes a cliché has a main meaning but its meaning morphs as people add textures of understanding to its use.

Have a cliché you'd like to see me recast? Tell me here or on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Language isn't static
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Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Cliché: get (have) your ducks in a row

Meaning: bring order to the world (example 1, example 2)

Rewrite 1: get your geese in formation
Rewrite 2: bring your circus into line
Rewrite 3: stack your food into pyramids
Rewrite 4: form your elements into periodic tables
Rewrite 5: make lists of your thoughts

Comment: This was a hard one to rewrite without simply mirroring the original. It's all about putting things out of order into order, and I tried to be as varied in the subject matter as possible.

Come say "Hi!" when you're on Twitter: @a_copywriter
Getting organized
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Wednesday, June 02, 2010

Cliché: get your arms around it

Meaning: understand something fully (grasp it) (example)

Rewrite 1: grasp it with both arms
Rewrite 2: hug it with your mind
Rewrite 3: wrap your mind around it
Rewrite 4: measure it all the way around the waist
Rewrite 5: lift it full weight

Comment: This cliché is about grasping the full extent of a situation, so I tried to vary the idiom by describing ways you might view something weighty or unwieldy in a way that would let you appreciate its full measure.

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Measuring and writing for science
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Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Cliché: get with the program

Meaning: do what was laid out before you (example)

Rewrite 1: get with the plan
Rewrite 2: follow the schematic
Rewrite 3: read the map
Rewrite 4: draw on the feed
Rewrite 5: tap the brain
Rewrite 6: follow the grooves

Comment: Two possible senses of the cliché here: the more caustic "do what we told you to do" or the invitation to "join up!" 

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Writing more persuasive advertising copy
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