Dogged Clichés

Helpful writing tip - How to recognize and avoid cliches.Haven’t been posting here loyally because I’ve been sick as a dog. Heh…which brings to mind the issue of clichés. In specific, dog clichés!

In teaching, I often use the “raining cats and dogs” snoozer to help students figure out how to recognize a cliché: if you can say the first few words and the rest fall into line as the night the ____, you can be pretty sure it’s a cliché. Sooo…

“It’s raining…
“CATS AND DOGS,” they all chorus.

Harder it is to explain to them why we try to avoid cliché (they think of these bons mots as part of the language…and of course, when you’re 18 a lot of the things are new to you and so you think they’re pretty catchy) and what the difference is between cliché and jargon and between a literary allusion and a cliché (Death, where’s thy sting?), and on and on. But I suppose teaching this stuff is neither here nor there.

Dog clichés: How many can you come up with?

Here are a few:

Crooked as a hound’s hind leg
Dog tired (why are dogs always sick and tired in these things?)
Hair of the dog that bit you (and drunk?)
Let sleeping dogs lie
He’s in the dog house
Gone to the dogs
Clean as a hound’s tooth
Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas
The dog ate my homework

It goes without ____ (uhm…I hope) that we don’t salt our copy with clichés. Better a plain turn of phrase than a superannuated metaphor or simile that jars the reader. Or puts her to sleep. It’s a dog-eat-dog world out there in Publishing Land. 🙄