There are many expressions, phrases, and collections of words that we see in reading. Although they are not entirely clear on their meaning, we still all know what the author is attempting to say because it has become so common our brains have substituted what it actually sounds like with the author’s portrayal of it. I like to over-analyze, and that is what I am going to do now. So here are some expressions, phrases, collections of words, etc. that don’t quite make sense when you look carefully.
1. Pulling back the weapon for the killing shot.
Have you ever cut yourself when chopping celery or anything like that? Do you realize how easy it is to part human flesh with a sharp object? Very. There is no need to pull back the weapon to kill someone, unless you’re aiming for something specific like a bone, which then, why didn’t you line it up correctly in the first place? But the baddie always pulls back the weapon because then there is enough time for the hero to escape or something equally dramatic to occur. Authors, I’m on to you.
2. Razor sharp swords.
Razors can be dull, and they can also be fine enough to draw blood at a single touch. You know, you can just say “sharp”. Or you can get fancy with it as I did and be all “blood will drip at a single prick from this dastardly blade”. Come on. Putting the razor bit in there is weak and does not, in fact, add any new information to the adjective “sharp” that you have already conveniently placed. If you’re going to argue that razors are at all times sharp, which is incorrect, then one of these words still needs to go to avoid being redundant.
3. A whispering subconscious.
Subconscious: Noun – The part of the mind below the level of conscious perception.
Basically, you can’t know about thinking about it. Yet apparently, the subconscious of these literary characters not only is in contact with the rest of the brain 24/7, it whispers like a creepy stalker. If I felt something whispering in my brain I would feel like Smeagol with Gollum in his head. I would freak out! This is not okay! Your subconscious is not something you can consciously feel. That’s why it’s called your SUBconscious. Under the radar. It may, at times, give you warning signals and rushes of adrenaline, but it will not converse with you. If you are hearing voices in your head and it’s not God, you have a problem. Contact your doctor with all haste.
4. Fiery red hair.
This one I find particularly annoying simply because I read a lot of books with redheaded main characters.
First of all, fiery. Fire can be all sorts of different colors – blue, white, orange, black, pink, even green if you threw some really weird potions into it. It does not specify that it is red. For all we know, this person you are describing could have freakish yellow hair. Probably not what the author had in mind, but that would be fiery.
And then red. Red has millions of shades. Check a Crayola crayon box if you need some assistance. There’s cranberry red, apple red, brick red, light red, dark red, maroon, purplish red, sky-at-three-in-the-morning-after-a-storm red…it could be any of those! Neither of the adjectives you are currently trying to use are telling me anything at all about this person’s hair! Is it curly? Long? Short? Pixie cut? Down to the small of the back? Nothing!
On a more serious note, I’m not kidding about those Crayola boxes. They have every color known to man and even some that I’m pretty sure were randomly generated by the Minions from Despicable Me. Can someone please explain to me what process Crayola went through that brought about the color “rhubarb pie on black carpet”?
5. Stop breathing/heart stops/gasping/stomach clenches and all the others of their ilk.
Hi, romance authors. Could you turn on your ears for a few moments? Thanks.
You’re telling me that when I meet someone for the first time who just so happens to be of the opposite gender, I will drop dead because I stopped breathing and my heart gave out because OH MY GOODNESS, it’s a person. As a homeschooled introverted child, I can totally get the whole meeting-new-people-terror thing, but never have I gone so far as to stop breathing. This is a serious condition! So many female characters nowadays require medical attention and they are just not getting it.
Fictional health care sucks.
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Now I’m off to go write something with every single one of these phrases used in the popular format because if I use expressions of my own creation that do make sense nobody will understand them because we are all so used to these ones.
God help the writing industry.