Oh, it is so tempting…it’s the first thing that comes to mind…a simile. I find in my writing that if I remove the simile then I can make a stronger sentence. So, here’s my thoughts on similes.
an instance of such a figure of speech or a use of words exemplifying it.
Now I’ve made this mistake before. It really is so easy to fall into the simile trap, but it’s also the easy way out. It can also make your readers cock their heads, raise an eyebrow and say “uh, what?”
Like this wonderful one I accidentally concocted for Let the Fates Decide:
“Then I felt the blood dripping like maple syrup down my forehead as I thrust all my weight against the jammed door.”
After I wrote it I sent it to my mentor. She basically said “maple syrup?”. Then I read it again, and, well I gagged a bit, and then I laughed a bit. It was just so BAD. First thing:
Maple syrup is thick like congealed blood. This is where the similarities end. What is the character’s head, a pancake? Then you think, God, that is gross!
It was the easy way out. What’s better? Even removing the comparison completely strengthens the sentence.
“Then I felt the blood dripping down my forehead as I thrust all my weight against the jammed door.”
Now for an example that seems to happen a lot of times: Comparing feelings and emotions to storms, blizzards and natural disasters.
This is not one from any of my novels, but an example.
“My life was suddenly spiraling out of control like a tornado had run me over with pain.”
We can just remove the simile, which is still better, but then we can start to think of things that describe a tornado and apply them to the situation.
noun, plural tor·na·does, tor·na·dos.
1.a localized, violently destructive windstorm occurring over land, especially in the Middle West, and characterized by a long, funnel-shaped cloud extending toward the ground and made visible by condensation and debris. Compare waterspout ( def. 3) .
2.a violent squall or whirlwind of small extent, as one of those occurring during the summer on the west coast of Africa.
3.a violent outburst, as of emotion or activity.
“My life was now spiraling out of control, my lies and deception were pulling me violently towards their epicenter and showing me that I was the only one to blame for the pain that I had caused.”
Better? Yes. Perfect? No, for I believe that writing can always be better. It will also, no matter what, never appeal to every one.
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