Spent the last couple of days wrestling with an abominable last line to a poem. And what I was doing was substituting one quality adjective-abstract noun combination after another. They all sucked. I kept thinking the elusive mot juste was out there, just dancing in front of me, if I could only find it.
Then it hit me. I would never let a student get away with this. My cardinal rule: never define an abstraction with an abstraction. Everything I've said about tired words and working words. I would tell the student, "find an image." So that's what I did. I don't know if it's the right image yet, but it's the right direction.