An Apt Phrase

When I’m writing or revising a novel, one of the fun games I like to play is the search for an apt phrase.

An Apt Phrase

some buried caesar
Lately, I’ve been listening to recorded books of Rex Stout’s classic detective series about Nero Wolfe, the overweight, orchid enthusiast. His sidekick, Archie Goodwin, tells the story and does all the legwork for Wolfe. In Some Bury Caesar, Goodwin is smitten by a femme fatale and calls her “Trifle.” At one point, he mocks himself and says that he’ll gladly buy her “a string of cellophane pearls.”

“A string of cellophane pearls.”

Wow! What a phrase. It captures the playfulness of the relationship, how Goodwin tries to downplay her effect on him, her love of jewelry. In fact, as most apt phrases do, it says more than you can say by dissecting it.

Metaphors, simlies, descriptions, great verbs — where ever I can work it in, I try to have at least one apt phrase in every story. Sometimes, the phrase just happens; other times, I have to work at it. But I make it one of my revision goals to search for the perfect apt phrase.

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