One of the worst things you can do as a writer is litter your work with cliché. It makes the work sound tired and like it was thrown together.
The problem is that there is a reason clichés get used all of the time and that’s that they are a nice kind of shorthand for what’s going on. They tell you a lot of information without getting you bogged down.
There is however a very nice trick you can use which is the cliché variation. This makes it possible to give the sentiment of the cliché without sounding like you can’t write.
What you do is take a standard cliché and change some of the words and leave the sense intact. This actually happens out in the wild with clichés anyway so it isn’t as much of a surprise to the reader. Here are three examples of what I mean all culled from real life.
You couldn’t organise a piss up in a brewery
You couldn’t organise a bun fight in a bakery
You couldn’t organise a fire in a matchbox factory
It most often happens out in the wild when the oldest form is seen as being slightly rude (the piss up one).
By creating your own version you use the shorthand everyone knows to convey the sense, but make it clear that you know your turnips from your swedes.
So, fair gamboling readers, it’s over to you. Just how many different ways are there to describe someone who is poor at organising things using this structure?