I – Idioms

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


“Tell me what’s wrong.” Dropsy thought Hawk was the best thing since sliced bread but she knew you couldn’t judge a book by its cover. “Why are you sad? Why did you come here to be alone?”

Hawk sighed. He felt he could spill the beans to her, let the cat out of the bag, instead of beating around the bush. “I’m not satisfied with my life. Being a billionaire Highlander cowboy who sells feminine products was not the life I had planned for myself. I need…some meaning.”

Dropsy couldn’t imagine a life like that. She didn’t want to bite off more than she could chew, but she hoped he would stay, for a man like him only came along once in a blue moon. “Maybe you’ll find it here,” she said. “It’s only been my wish to have the curse lifted and escape this place, but–maybe if I had something to stay here for, it wouldn’t be so bad.”

Hawk smiled. Maybe they could help each other find meaning in their situations. After all, they couldn’t spend their lives crying over spilt milk.


Idioms are sayings and phrases we all know well, which convey a sentiment in a short and clever way. Should they be used in writing? That depends. If you use it in the prose itself, probably not—any good editor is going to make you pluck idioms out of your writing, for they’re trite and distracting. Your characters can say them of course, because that’s how people talk. But again, they should be used sparingly. It’s much better to write succinctly and just say what you mean.

Of course, if you’re writing comedy, as I discussed yesterday, idioms might work for you. A certain turn of phrase at the right time can be hilarious—but you don’t want people cracking up at your dramatic murder mystery.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

33 thoughts

  1. Well, this is quite embarassing, because I’ve actually read stories written like this. Sure, the idioms were not all clastered together, but there were a lot of them, sure enough to notice. One of these stories, I read recently and it was published by one of the big houses.


    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz


    1. This just goes to show, even the successful authors break rules. I’ve seen bestselling authors do things that would make my editor slap me! I guess when you get to a certain level you can just do whatever you want.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The funny thing about idioms is that they go in and out of style. Some of the older ones, or ones from a different culture, can be brand new to a modern, American audience. Sancho from Don Quixote is always quoting idioms that I’d never heard of, and they were fresh and amusing even though they may have been trite to the original audience.
    Thanks for sharing and keeping up the great work of “horrible” fiction. 🙂


    1. That’s a very good point! It’s just like slang, it changes over time. For example, you don’t hear anyone calling anyone ‘the bee’s knees’ now. Language evolves and is really fascinating for that. I guess that’s why I’m a writer!


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