Wednesday, October 21, 2009

The Branch Stabbed into My Arm like Vampire Fangs on a Moonlit Night

As a general rule, I don’t like similes. A writer that doesn’t like similes? Is that possible?

Sometimes, they work beautifully, creating incredible imagery and pulling me deeper into a character’s experience. Unfortunately, more often than not, they pull me out of whatever story I’m reading. Not because they don’t apply to the description, but because it’s something obscure that most people have never experienced, so I have to really think about it to visualize it or imagine how it would feel. Or, because it’s so off-the-wall, I actually find myself laughing at how ridiculous it sounds.

Like the title of this post, for example. No one has really experienced a vampire bite, and I don’t write vampire stories, so to put it into my writing would create an image that has nothing to do with the storyline, thus pulling the reader out of the story. Make sense? By the way, I totally came up with that awesome simile all on my own, but I’ve seen similar similes ;) in published books.

Let me just say, it's not my intention to offend anyone. I apologize in advance if you think my comments are evil because you love similes like the example I’ve given. We’re all entitled to our own opinions. That’s what makes the world go ‘round, right? Just because I like to pretend I’m right all the time, doesn’t mean I am. (I can’t believe I just typed that. ;D)

Maybe it’s just me, and I’m just not a simile kind of girl. :)

I admit, I have a few in my novel, but it takes quite a bit of contemplation before I’ll put one in my writing. I need to be sure it’s going to add something of value to the description and not disrupt the flow.

So, how to do all of you feel about similes? Do you think they provide valuable imagery that can’t be accomplished any other way, or do you find they detract from a story? Or is it all in the execution?

Just for fun, you can click here for a list of totally outrageous, but hilarious, similes taken from several Washington Post contests.


  1. i've posted those before. they always get me laughing till my sides hurt.

  2. I agree. Similies and metaphors are best left alone unless they are spot-on. And when a writer uses a lot of them, like several on every page, it stops the flow of story and you end up wondering whether the author thinks they are really clever or what. Perhaps, we should think of them as seasoning--a touch for spice and it must blend with the meal.

  3. I agree. Like you, I have a few in my WIP, but I use them sapringly. I think it's hard to write a really fitting one that doesn't come across as cliche.

  4. I love them like I love the center of tootsie roll pops. I love them like the love between romeo and Juliette. I love them like the moon over Kentucky I love them so.

    And then I try and yank them out.

    I will say, however, that if you can create one of your own, one that isn't a cliche... It think they are magic.

  5. Hello, my name is Becca Knight, and I'm a simile-a-holic! I really am trying to quit, though.

    You're totally right about them being distracting if they aren't used sparingly.

  6. I'm not a simile user either. I usually appreciate them in other's work, but I don't do flowery imagery very well. When I try it always comes out forced, so I try to just write what I mean.

  7. Your title cracked me up! I love a good simile, but find that most aren't.

  8. Michelle: I thought they were pretty funny too. :)

    Tricia: Great metaphor! ;)

    Susan: It is hard to write a good one. Maybe that's part of the reason I don't really like them. :)

    Suz: So, you just kind of like them? ;) I agree. There are some that work perfectly, but it's hard.

    Becca: Welcome, Rebecca! We're glad you joined us for group today. :)

    Natalie: I'm not big on the flowery imagery either. Makes my head hurt trying sometimes.

    Anissa: Thanks! Glad you liked it. :)

  9. I like a good simile if used the right way. But I read a book a few weeks ago that had so many it was completely distracting. I think like anything else, moderation is key.

  10. I'm not much of a simile user either, but when used right, they're great. Ingrid Law uses a ton a similes of in SAVVY and IMO they add to the folksy charm of her story.

  11. One of my critique partners has a way with similes and I always marvel at them when I read her WIPs. I'm not a huge fan unless they're really good...and hers are really good. I am envious. ;)