I just finished writing a section where I had a character flit about, and as I did so, I realized that I’d never seen anyone in real life do that. I’ve seen birds, yes, as they fly from branch to branch. But people? No. Nor have I’ve seen anyone flounce. I know what it evokes—someone turning and swiftly leaving a room (especially if there are doors to slam) usually in a high dudgeon (whatever that means), and mostly likely involving crinolines, gloves, fluttering fans and fights where the blows are verbal and delivered over tea with lethal accuracy by tongues sharp enough to shred lettuce.
Which is why I guess writers use words and phrases that don't really have anything to do with the way people really act. It’s a sort of shorthand, a way to get across in the minimum amount of words an action or reaction. But sometimes that shorthand breaks down and the reader is wondering, okay, what the heck is that? Like when a writer describes someone unclothed as “buck naked.” Uhm, what? Who is Buck and why is his nakedness more absolute than anyone else's? Or my favorite, when a character has a “wild hare”—though to be fair, that’s more a mix up on homonyms than a phrase gone, hah, wild.
Well, back to the flitting character. Maybe I can work a flounce or two in there somewhere. But no bucks or hares. The only animals involved are the two-legged kind—and, yes, that includes Laurel.
*No wildlife was harmed in the making of this post.