Simile: A Writer’s Best Tool

I offered a quick review of The Edge of Recall in my post, “Hodgepodge News,” a few weeks ago, but what I didn’t do was quote what is now one of my favorite similes in all of fictiondom:

Petra flicked her fingers through the white front of her hair. “Whatev. I got what I wanted. That’s what counts.” She turned from the mirror, all sharp cheekbones and smooth skin.

It was like talking to a shell, a beautifully polished shell the real creature had left behind.

Isn’t this great? Can you get any better, any more descriptive, than this? That’s the magic of simile. In a few words, Kristen punctuated with beautiful irony what she had spent the past several paragraphs illustrating.

Another of my favorites comes from Lisa Gardner’s The Survivors Club. One of the characters in her novel was brutally raped while her husband was “working late.” Lisa describes all he does to make it up to her, to show his support and his own remorse, buying her flowers and takeout from her favorite restaurants. Then, Lisa summarizes: “Guilt, she decided, smelled like red roses and veal piccata.”

According to Ron Rozelle’s Description and Setting, “a metaphor is an implied resemblance, a simile is a stated one, and an analogy is a detailed one.”

Of the three, analogy is my least favorite. A powerful metaphor or simile can drive a point home with fewer words and higher effect on the senses, making them more memorable. It is so easy for me to picture Kristen’s “beautiful shell” or smell Lisa’s “red roses and veal piccata.” The imagery makes the similes memorable.

But similes are like any other specialty tool. Use too many of them, and they lose their effectiveness. My critique partner finally had to rein me in on my first novel because I was having far too much fun with the similes. They’re perfect for exaggeration, which–me being Texan and all–is a part of my story-teller voice. Although they’re fun for tale-spinning, they tend to get tedious in novels.

If you haven’t tried your had at similes yet, do. With enough practice, you and I can write them with the same razor sharp perfection as Lisa and Kristen.

BookSweeps Giveaway!

You can win my book Skydiving to Love, plus books from authors like Deb Kastner, J.P. Sterling, Beth K. Vogt, and more.

There’s more! You’ll also get a brand new eReader if you win, just for following me and other great Christian & Inspirational authors on BookBub. This giveaway ends soon, so make sure you hurry and enter!

Join the fun here!

Good luck!

About Linda W. Yezak

Author/Freelance Editor/Speaker (writing and editing topics).
This entry was posted in write tips, Writing, Writing Tips and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Simile: A Writer’s Best Tool

  1. K.M. Weiland says:

    I’ve always thought Heitzmann the master of the telling detail.


Talk to me--I love comments!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.