Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

Trust Your Writing: Similes & Metaphors

Recently I read a book that disappointed me. Don’t you hate when you finish a novel and you want your time back? I do.

It disappointed me because the writer didn’t trust their own words. For example if a woman (female protagonist) is standing in the pouring rain holding her dead child, that raw image should be left to stand on its own; it needs no simile and no metaphor to strengthen it. We get it.

But sadly, this author felt the need to consistently stretch those images out with similes that distracted from and diluted the scene, and eventually, the story. Don’t do that. Trust our writing.

Use similes and metaphors sparingly – they’re wonderful literary devices, but too many is like having too many tattoos or wearingname in tattoo too much make-up; you can no longer see the person.

ALSO, If a female protagonist has spent 300 pages yearning for her lover, the last chapter should not be 5 years later, it should be them reuniting in a hot mess of passion or at least a long glimpse across the train station that lets me know they’re gonna have the kind of night I can easily imagine. But to cheat the reader, me, out of a reunion after 300 pages of yearning, is in my book (pardon the pun) a Cardinal sin. Don’t cheat your readers. That’s like saying, “Here’s a box of truffles, but you can’t have one.” Not nice.

Don’t lead up to something that never happens, or happens off page, and then sum it up. NO! NO! NO! I want the damn truffles!

I’m so disappointed I’ll never read another book by that author. His storytelling capabilities are now suspect, at best. So, if you don’t want that to happen to your stories, then don’t cheat your readers out of the reunions, redemption, revenge or salvation that the entire story was building toward. Okay, I’m done venting. Have a nice day. Better yet, read a good book.

And check out this site on Literary Devices

8 comments on “Trust Your Writing: Similes & Metaphors

  1. Arleen Williams
    February 11, 2014

    Always good to hear reminders of what to cut! Thanks, Mindy!

    • Mindy
      February 11, 2014

      Or add back in!

  2. pamelahobartcarter
    February 11, 2014

    Mindy, I know people who’d have thrown the book across the room, not concerned about finishing, and i know Mindys who finish each book started. I’m a Mindy almost always.

    • Mindy
      February 11, 2014

      My husband begged me to stop reading because he couldn’t stand my groaning when I hit a painful passage, but I’m that Mindy who finishes most books started. I believe in redemption, it just doesn’t always happen.

  3. Jack Remick
    February 10, 2014

    The art is in the rewrite. Knowing what to leave out is as big as what you leave in. Keep on hammering those nails, Mindy. I love to hear you get pumped up. Recovered from the crud?

    • Mindy
      February 10, 2014

      Thank you. And yes, only just recovered. Worst flu I ever had. And I’ve had some. See you Friday.

  4. dianabaileyharris
    February 10, 2014

    Thank you, your timing is perfect: I needed this reminder.

    • Mindy
      February 10, 2014

      My pleasure…and we all need reminders all the time. Here’s to good storytelling.

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