Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Tip Tuesday: Breaking Apart Familiar Phrases

One of the joys of writing fiction is the chance to play with language. While much writing advice centers on storytelling, characterization, and so forth, what about the choices you make with the individual words you use?

For example, there are some phrases in English that are so well-worn that we tend not to think of the words that form them on their own. For example, "unrequited love". "Unrequited" simply means "not reciprocated". So why do writers tend to use it only in this instance? For that matter, why not have someone requite an action once in a while?

Another one that stands out to me is "vim and vigor". I hear vigor on its own all the time, but never vim. I'd cut this phrase down anyway, since vim and vigor have essentially the same meaning, so using both is redundant. Why not just use "vim" on its own?

Next time you're going over a piece of writing, search out these overused phrases. How can you break them apart to form a new and unique construction? Give it a try. It'll warm the cockles of your heart.

Which phrases always stick out to you when you're reading?

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