Make like a tree and get outta here. Fans of the Back to the Future movie trilogy will remember fondly when Biff Tannen (played by Tom Wilson) screws up all of his punchlines: “Since you’re new here, I-I’m gonna cut you a break… today. So, why don’t you make like a tree and get outta here?” Biff, of course, comes off looking like an idiot and has no idea that his insults have misfired. But writers can learn something from the brawny, brainless Biff. When it comes to writing, you can — and should — go out of your way to play with language. Take a common phrase or cliche and turn it on its head; mix words up and put them in daring, new combinations: “bent into shape,” “behind the meatball,” “bullshit in a china shop.” Is it interesting? Dopey? Does it work in your manuscript? You won’t know until you try. Sometimes an unusual or “incorrect” description creates magic: “her red hair was loud” or “his whisper filled the empty stadium with color.” That’s the great thing about writing. There are virtually no wrong answers. And if there are, just assign them to a big dope like Biff Tannen.