Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Writers Who Try Too Hard — “Language Warpers”


Today’s post is about bad similes.

Bad Writing

Image Courtesy of Brenton Nicholls ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/BJN-31210

Four of my dictionaries give “simile” these definitions:

“a figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another thing of a different kind , used to make a description more emphatic or vivid”

“A figure of speech in which a person or thing is described by being explicitly likened to another, usually preceded by as or like”

“A figure of speech involving the comparison of one thing with another of a different kind , as an illustration or ornament”

“a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared”

Quite similar with interesting variations

I also have four different weather apps, with their own brand of interesting variations (and many days not very similar…) on what kind of weather to expect :-)

The Paris Review has an article called Striking Similes that says:

“’I think that the impulse to find the likeness between unlike things is very basic to us’….Pair this impulse with a desire for novelty—with every writer’s desire, that is, to be the first person ever to make a certain comparison on the page, to connect two previously disparate things—and you can see how even a seasoned writer could have a reach that exceeds his grasp. There’s a thin line between the original and the asinine.”

The article quotes some amazing (weird, out-there, warped) similes from a book called, Fifteen Thousand Useful Phrases. <— that link is to a Google Page (you can buy the book or get it free…).

“Useful” Phrases………

Hmmm

I read a lot of folks on Wattpad (part of my book promotion program) and, admittedly, most of them are not “seasoned” writers (still, there are many fine writers); yet, there are quite a few of them who fracture language but still pull me along with their Sense of Story

And, even though some of the Wattpad writers warp things a bit, that article from The Paris Review has more than 40 Extremely Overwrought similes.

I’ll excerpt just the few that really stand out for me:

“A glacial pang of pain like the stab of a dagger of ice frozen from a poisoned well”

“Brute terrors like the scurrying of rats in a deserted attic”

Those are definitely overwrought…

This one’s almost painful:

“Cheeks as soft as July peaches”

Just a few more:

“Each moment was an iridescent bubble fresh-blown from the lips of fancy”

“He snatched furiously at breath like a tiger snatching at meat”

“Her hair dropped on her pallid cheeks, like sea-weed on a clam”

“Like a festooned girdle encircling the waist of a bride”

“Love had like the canker-worm consumed her early prime”

And, some of them “almost” work:

“You are as gloomy to-night as an undertaker out of employment”

So, if you need a course in overwriting, check out that book; and, you might also read the whole article in The Paris Review
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* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com

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