This is my last day here in Okie land and for those of you who care. I did a bit better at the casino this visit although not well enough to skip work for even a day.
Thought I'd make today my day to blog about writing and since I have had several comments on metaphors and similes that seems as good a subject as any. Here is my list of do's and don't when it comes to metaphors and similes. As usual I do not proclaim to be an expert I'm merely sharing my position and how I choose to write.
DO avoid cliches -- Finer than frog hair, stiff as a board, happy as a clam, wilder than a march hare there are a tone of these cliched phrased and you should avoid them except maybe in dialogue where you have a character who would say things like this.
DON"T overuse them - This is something I have to watch myself. We all have that one annoying uncle or brother in law who thinks he's cute and constantly speaks in catch phrases, metaphors and similes. A conversation with them might sound like this. I was hungry enough to eat a horse do I went down the the cafe. You know the one with the waitress that is hotter than a pistol. I asked if she had any fried to go along with that shake, but she just looked at me like I was dumber than a box of rocks. So then I turned to ol' Charlie and said, "She's colder than a witch's tit in a brass bra."
Not only is the paragraph riddled with cliche's but it is overwhelming as well. you reader will become numb if forced to read page after page of this, or they will close the book and say what idiot wrote this. I made the above paragraph up on the spur of the moment but here is an example from the short story version of Plundered Booty.
I joined the other salesmen in pretending to study the sticker of a candy apple red Mustang. That convertible pony was a hot ride, but it had sat in the middle of the showroom for a couple of weeks. What they were really sizing up was their chances with this new gal. To tell the truth, I wasn’t even sure Junior had a chance with this one.
Hair darker than a new set of Michelin’s. Lips that put the gloss on that Mustang to shame. A body with more curves than a Porsche. But it was those eyes that got me.
Bright, innocent eyes. Big and round like the headlights of a late-fifties sedan. The kind of eyes that said, I got a big block under the hood, but I’d never use my power for mere thrills. I’m only looking to get you safely to your destination.
This section is bordering on being excessive but since it all ties together and fits the theme, I think, or at least hope it works okay. Which takes me to my next point.
DO make your metaphors and similes fit the character and tone -- In the above paragraph the first person narrator is a car salesman. He is proud of his job and is a car guy through and through which is why I sue vehicle related terms throughout the story. You don't want to be writing a historical romance and say His abs were tighter than a fat man's speedo. First of all speedos were not around in that time period and second of all if you are building sexual tension the last thing you want is your reader imagining a fat man in skimpy attire.
And if you are writing a suspense or a thriller you would want something like ... His footsteps echoed down the hall. Her heart hammered against her chest. Like a fly in a spider's web, fear held her in place. Okay that stinks but I never claimed to be a suspense writer. But this is even worse because it totally destroys the mood. He walked down the hall. Her heart sped up. She wanted to get up and run but like a baby in a car seat fear held her in place. A baby in a car seat does not set the same mood as a spider web. The examples kind of stink but hopefully you get my meaning.
DO use the world you've created. Writing a western? Use guns, rugged terrain, dusty cowtown streets and the like for comparison, A Sci-Fi? computers the black emptiness of space, planets and such.
I have decided that my writing posts are my least favorite. i never feel like I do a good job of getting my point across and I always feel like a blathering idiot when I get done. Maybe this helps someone out there I don't know. There are better blogs out there that discuss the craft, and there are certainly more qualified people to discuss the technical side of writing, but since I started this blog to talk about writing I feel like I should do that very thing from time to time.
So all me fellow writers help me and others out by adding you own do's and don'ts to the comments section.