Wednesday, August 19, 2009

My SIMILE post is like a red red rose, or not . . .

Yesterday I gave examples of Dangling Participles. There are many ways to craft stronger manuscripts, but what I hope you take away from the post below is how to think about the scene you are writing in a tangible way: SEE the scene—and learn to “see the scene” without having to stop and to picture it every time, but instead by practicing your craft, paying attention to your work in edits (not in the initial writing of your draft!) so that strong writing happens much more naturally or instinctively.

We want our sentences to read better so they are not awkward (as those sentences in the post below are awkward, or maybe my blog post I'm writing quickly is awkward -laugh-)- Do we want perfection? YES! Okay, sort of kidding, but perfection is stress-inducing and impossible to achieve. Relax and have fun with your first draft(s), then be mean and beady-eyed with your edits. We can create works that read lyrically, or beautifully, or "flow" smoothly, by paying attention to detail while in the editing stage of our manuscripts. We can weed out many of those Sneaky things we tend to do repeatedly.

Knowing the names of grammar/syntax isn’t as important to me as knowing how to create a manuscript that is stronger and tighter, and lyrical. More important to consider when deadlines loom. I had much more time to write what became Tender Graces than I will have to write Secret Graces (the working title of VK2), so the more I know instinctively—the more I am aware of the editing side of my writing—the better off I'll be when I'm rushing to meet my deadline: when I have a mere few months(!) to write a novel versus all the time I want.

Paying attention, reading, editing, practicing my craft, show me what kinds of things I tend to over-do or should not do or just flat don't want to do even if it is considered acceptable--we all must find our writing style and voice and blah didity do dah day

Today is: Simile.

One word I do a search for in my manuscript is “Like,” since like or as is used most often in Simile. I want to make sure I do not have a bunch of like this and like that, Similes, all over creation. Some samples of Similes are:

Her lips are red like a new rose
His leg was like a tree stump
My eyes bugged out like a frog
I hollered at her like a banshee.
The road was as curving as a snake’s journey
The cloud was puffy as a cotton ball
(Please don’t use those sentences above in your writing – they are awful and full of cliché *eyewww*- I am just throwing out quick examples. . . )

I have been guilty of using too much simile and so I eagle eye my manuscript to see if there is another method to get my point across. Look for those “like/as” phases in your work. Do you have a crud-load of simile? Is there another way to structure what you want to say? Similes can be beautiful and fun and effective, but too many of them and they begin to blare out as if you’d taken a highlighter pen and marked up your manuscript.

Note also, as I showed you in the examples above, the danger of simile is that they can easily slip into the dreaded careful of that! Note that Simile and Metaphor, while lumped together, are not exactly the same thing, but I won’t go into all that…as I say: a Google or Bing or whatever search you do will give you the information you need.
I don’t think there is much more to say about similes right now.

UPDATE on MAGGIE LOU: she has completed one round of medicine and is almost finished the other. Her personality is really coming through and she’s feeling so much better. I am glad we found Maggie and she found us.

If you haven’t been by Teresa’s place yet where I guest blogged with a few words on submitting to a zine, I hope you’ll stop by. Questions are encouraged and I’ll be around to answer them. Namaste!

google images from:


Lazy Writer said...

The first run through on my ms revealed some awful similes, and, yes, they were cliches! Yikes! Got rid of them right away.

Jessica said...

Oh yikes. well, I don't think I've overdone similes but I do have to watch out for cliches. LOL Also, I need to learn to see the scene. Usually I feel it, but that's a lot different and a reader doesn't want to be told what to feel. (or so I've heard, lol)

Angie Ledbetter said...

Always good writing tips here, Kat. :) So happy Maggie is settling into her new home.

Strange Fiction said...

Great tips! I'll have to come back and paw through your posts like a dog with a bone when it comes time to edit and revise.

Terri Tiffany said...

Glad to hear your dog is settling in and you love her:)
I tend to over do similes as well. Did I spell that right??? Hmmm

K.M. Weiland said...

I agree with you that knowing all the technical terms isn't important in the long run. But I have noticed that, as I've progressed in my writing life, the technical terms that I slaved over in grade and high school suddenly started slipping into place in my wee brain. I do believe that the more concrete understanding you have of a concept (which includes knowing its name), the better chance you'll have of making it instinctual.

Joanna said...

Thanks for visiting me up on Haliburton Hill. I hoped to see a photo of your dog but instead I found this amazing writing course. Writing is another of my keen interests. What synchronicity! I'll be following this blog.

Patty said...

Oh, my. I have a headache now. I just write and throw my completed works to the copy editors. I am a lazy writer but a published lazy writer. Heehe.

Great pointers.

willow said...

Great post and good suggestions. Thanks for stopping by Willow Manor and for your kind comment!

Michelle H. said...

I look for "as" in my writing for overuse. I used to look for "like" until I realized I barely think in similes for my ms. Maybe it depends on the genre? I'm into suspense, which doesn't seem like a category to have them. Great advice - nonetheless. Something to stow away in my mental writing library.

Wonderful to hear Maggie Lou is feeling much better!

Lori said...

What wonderful post. I never likes the simile much. Most times it seems a little forced to me, like coming from a writing class exercise, you know? Metaphors are much more subtle, I think. A little more difficult but worth the trouble.

Akannie said...

HI Kat...

First time here...found you while meandering the blogoverse...starting in reduce

I moved from Asheville about 4.5 years, how I miss those Mountains! Love Maggie Valley, love your blogs, (esp. YOG) and love to write.

What more could a girl want?

Annie :)

Deb Shucka said...

Great teaching, both here and at Teresa's. So glad Maggie continues to get better and better.