Analogies….oh how so very bad they can become. I have to admit, I have had a few bad ones work their way into a manuscript from time to time too. They can be stealthy these little examples of really bad writing. As a writer we really have to pay attention to what we are comparing to what.
An analogy is supposed to enhance a story, give it some breath. Her heart fluttered like Monarch Butterflies lighting on nearby flowers….or he was overcome with a tsunami of emotion… Yes they do still sound a bit hokey when by them selves but in a moment of really passionate writing the right analogy is key to conveying the mood of the scene.
But what happens when they go bad? Here are some examples of really bad analogies…
- He was as tall as a 6 ft. tree
- From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you’re on vacation in another city and Jeopardy comes on at 7 instead of 7:30.
- She grew on him like e Coli on room temperature Canadian beef.
- Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
- The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
- His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
- He was as fast as lightning, but twice as stupid.
- The computer was up and down like a hooker’s panties.
- The nuclear missiles exploded across the face of the earth like there was no tomorrow.
AND one of my favorites….
- Herb sat by his window and watched in roughly the way that an average potato, despite having 7.5 times as many eyes, wouldn’t.
Why oh why do people not read through these and realize how bad they are? The truth is we live in a world that requires instant writing and so many times the writer isn’t actually reading his/her own stuff. In the world of self-publishing this can be so, so bad. So my advice for today is, if you choose to use analogies, do so wisely. Make sure that you read them out loud to both yourself and to someone else. I have a nifty little app that will actually read my stuff to me so I can hear first-hand how stupid something may sound. Trust me…you don’t want to be the guy who writes…”The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease”…people will remember that and not in a good way….
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