Wednesday, May 27, 2015

As Sick as a Parrot

Sybil here. I’ve been working through the comments from my editor for my next book, Paint the Town Dead. As usual, she has many useful things to say. And, as usual, some cliches have managed to slip through. To keep the flow of writing going, I don’t worry about cliches in the first draft, but I do try to excise them from the one I send to my editor.

This exercise got me thinking about cliches and how to get rid of them so I consulted my trusty(?) internet and came up with a few websites that I thought you all might find interesting.

The first one that popped up was from the Oxford Dictionary, which had a procedure to help get rid of cliches in your writing. (‘Cause as a former programmer, I can relate to algorithms and procedures.) What struck me as funny about this one was the first “cliche” noted on the site: as sick as a parrot. Well, as a United Statesian*, I had never heard of this one. Had to look it up on the internet to find out it means “to be very disappointed”. I’ve never read or heard this anywhere here in the U.S. I assume, given this is an Oxford Dictionary site, this is a British thing. Is it common in Canada as well? Has anyone heard it in the U.S.?

The next site I visited was tips from Grammar Girl on avoiding cliches. This one has some interesting historical tidbits on where some cliches come from as well as suggestions on how to get rid of them. Plus there are some links at the bottom of the article that I found interesting.

One in particular was the Phrase Finder where you can type in a word like “cat” and it’ll tell you phrases that include that word. Raining cats and dogs, no room to swing a cat,... For each phrase there’s a discussion on its origins. Great fun if you want to avoid doing real work.

And the last site I found before I gave up on searching was

I’m sure there are a lot more sites out there with tips but I must get back to my edits since they’re due in a week.

*United Statesian – see Donis Casey’s post awhile back on Thanksgiving where she mentions the phrase in a footnote:

1 comment:

Donis Casey said...

Apparently we United Statesians have more sick dogs than sick parrots.