I recently came across this sentence in a novel: “It was the kind of store I loved to see walking down the street when I was a kid.” Whoooo. I’d like to see any kind of store walking down the street!
I was thinking about that particular gaffe while I was walking down the street today. I happened to see something that made me realize the sentence wasn’t totally ludicrous — a house rolling passed me. Okay, it was being towed, but still, it was moving along the street instead of being securely attached to a foundation.
Something else I saw: a henpecked rooster. Not a pretty sight! That poor thing was pecked raw by the hens. I will never again use the word henpecked, though to be honest, I’m not sure I ever did.
Many words outlive their usefulness and become meaningless clichés, such as pitch black. Does anyone today even know what pitch is? I had to look it up. It’s a black, sticky substance from the distillation of tar. What about hair the color of a raven’s wing. Have you ever seen a raven’s wing up close? Perhaps you saw a crow. I don’t know enough about birds to tell the difference, but I do know that comparing hair to a crow’s wing doesn’t portray the same poetic image. And why are writers still referring to the squeals of stuck pigs? Some clichés are of more recent standing, such as a stuffed briefcase. If you saw someone with a briefcase, how would you know how full it was?
Clichés, poorly constructed sentences, and unnecessary bits of exposition should be eliminated during the editing process. Today’s Daughter Am I blog tour stop includes a segment of Daughter Am I that remained in the book up until a week before publication. It’s not a bad excerpt, but it added nothing except a bit more history to a novel that already had a lot of history.
You can see the segment here: Dead Darling from Daughter Am I.