Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Metaphorically Speaking

It occurs to me that I don't think--or write--in metaphors. Done well, and in moderation, I think they add so much to a book, but when I try to weave in a few attempts, they come off sounding forced. Probably because I'm forcing them. Even when I feel like I could really use a metaphor (or simile), I sit there, stuck, thinking to myself...'it's like...?.... what ? what is it like??' Obviously this is not conducive to the best comparisons.

I read a book recently--I can't remember which one, and if I did, I would not mention it here--that actually used them too much. Every other paragraph seemed to have the phrase: 'It was as if...' Some comparisons were spot-on, others could have been dropped and would not have been missed.

Right now, I'm reading a book that I think does them stunningly well. I'm actually envious. ARCs of Private Arrangements, Sherry Thomas' debut historical romance were being given out at Nationals. I begged a chapter mate to get me one and she did!! And I'm just thrilled. I'm not far along yet, but so far I love it! She has such a way with words and such a new take (for me anyway) on the historical. There are so many details--the reading seems almost indulgent to me. Personally, I love adding those little details, but I've been told that I get bogged down. So I'm trying to make my descriptions more vibrant and interesting. This book could be my manual.

Anyway...getting back to metaphors and similes... I read one in this book last night that I just thought was perfect. It never would have occurred to me, and it's not the best image, but I think it's wonderful. Judge for yourself:

"Now the defoliated willows looked rather like naked old spinsters, all thin and droopy."

And there's more...so much more.

I'm eagerly anticipating this truly beautiful read. If anyone has any tips on coming up with that perfect metaphor or simile, please share your secret!


Vicki said...

Sorry no tips but I love the one she used as well. I can see exactly what she's talking about. :)

I have the book in my tbr pile and now I'll be moving it up the list.

susanhatler said...

I tend not to use similes and metaphors (not unless I do it without knowing, anyway). But, executed right they can be quite effective. Maybe do some writing exercises and see if they end up coming out naturally. Good luck!

Sara Hantz said...

No tips from me, either. I don't tend to write like that and I don't like reading it!

Stephanie said...

So glad to be back in the blog world...I took a several week hiatus! I know EXACTLY what you mean about metaphors. I am no good at them. My question...do we think that authors who are amazingly good at them try to come up with metaphors like that as they're writing? Or do the metaphors come to them at random times and they come up with a way to incorporate them at some later date? The few good metaphors I've thought of have come to me randomly and I haven't yet used them....I think that says something (just not sure what)

ERiCA said...

When I read this ARC, I thought the same thing about Sherry's voice. Her writing is just beautiful!