Friday, September 4, 2015

Writing Descriptively (Part 5 of 7)

When writing descriptively, don't hesitate to use figurative language—if it fits. The first two below are my own.
Having planted seed in my curiosity patch, Mark will watch to see if it sprouts in my actions.

Darkness dwells within the best of us; in the worst of us, darkness not only dwells but reigns.

Love was a sacred garment, woven of a fabric so thin that it could not be seen, yet so strong that even mighty death could not tear it, a garment that could not be frayed by use, that brought warmth into what would otherwise be an intolerably cold world—but at times love could also be as heavy as a chain mail.—Dean Koontz, False Memories, p.71.
Metaphors, if well written, enliven our writing. But don't use them unless they flow from you. Here are two negative examples.

* His writing was like brilliant comets that streaked across the sky, drenching readers with a blizzard of insight.

* In the meeting thorny problems bobbed, which we tried to sweep under the rug, bobbed up several times. 

The above examples are bad because they used mixed metaphors (i.e., comparisons that aren't consistent). In the second, thorny problems starts the sentence and we get it. Do thorns bob, and we sweep thorns under the rug?


  1. Cec, what do you think of this metaphor? Self-criticism gets you nipping at your own tail. Round and round you go, until you’ve spun yourself into a thick blur. Grace whistles for you, grabs you by the paws, and holds you to its chest.

  2. I smiled when I read it and liked it.
    The real question is this: Does it sound like you and work for you? Too often writers focus on creativity and cleverness and they don't sound like themselves.

  3. Great question. Yes, I think the metaphor matches my voice, spoken and written. I'm glad you liked the metaphor. Your smile made me smile.


What are your thoughts?