Oct 212009
A herd of savanna elephants in Western Africa

Image via Wikipedia

Sometimes we humans use expressions that, while they seem plausible enough on the surface, actually have no bearing on life in the real world.

We do this all the time, without ever questioning the validity of what we’re saying, and we perpetuate these misconceptions by using the same expressions with our children. They in turn will pass on these falsehoods to their children and so it will go on unless someone makes a stand and sets things straight.

Anyone who’s ever had mice in the house will know that the old adage "as quiet as a mouse" is a complete fallacy. Mice can, in truth, make an unbelievable racket for their size as they scurry around under floors and behind skirting boards; chittering, squeeking and scraping as they forage for stray crumbs. The pitter-patter of their tiny feet is surprisingly audible in the dead of night, and the conclusive snap of a mouse-trap is enough to wake anyone from their slumber. I’ve taken to using a different version… one that’s far more accurate than the rodent equivalent. I tell the girls they should try to be "as quiet as a pineapple". When was the last time you heard fruit make a sound?

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Mar 122008

Stumbled across this wonderful writing advice on the web. It’s an article by best selling Science Fiction novelist C. J. Cherryh, and, as the author encourages sharing I thought I’d post it here in its entirety. It really is great advice, and although its naturally biased towards fiction writing (which is what most non-fiction writers secretly long to write anyway), there are heaps of useful suggestions that will help to make any writing more dynamic and engaging.

The most important thing to remember, as always, is that when you’re writing rules are never absolute. They offer guidance, but if breaking rules helps you convey your message more effectively, do it! Or as C. J. Cherryh so eloquently puts it: “CHERRYH’S LAW: NO RULE SHOULD BE FOLLOWED OFF A CLIFF”.


Writerisms and other Sins:

A Writer’s shortcut to stronger writing.

by C.J. Cherryh

(c) 1995 by C.J. Cherryh

Copy and pass ‘Writerisms and other Sins’ around to your heart’s content, but always post my copyright notice at the top, correctly, thank you, as both a courtesy and a legal necessity to protect any writer.

Writerisms: overused and misused language. In more direct words: find ’em, root ’em out, and look at your prose without the underbrush. You may be surprised by how much better it looks.

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