He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
July 31, 2013
It’s a problem every writer faces.
You need to describe someone. So you write: he has a face as sharp as an axe.
You need to describe something. So you write: the storm came up as quick as the lightning in the western sky.
You need to describe how someone talks. So you write: his voice was as smooth as Mississippi Molasses.
You need to describe action. So you write: the door sounded like a pistol shot when it slammed shut.
And after awhile you fear that you are using the same similes and analogies over and over again.
Are they tired?
Are they worn out?
Have they become clichés?
Maybe it’s time you began thinking outside the box. I mean thinking way outside the box. You might consider the way a group of high school students poured out their descriptions.
They were only looking for an A.
You’re looking to sell a book.
The don’t look at the world the way the rest of us do. Maybe we should spend more time looking at it through their eyes. Their ideas are as new and different as a river that stopped running because it was tired of looking for the dam.
Check out what the high schoolers had to say.
1. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two sides gently compressed by a ThighMaster.
2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.
3. He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
4. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. Coli, and he was room-temperature Canadian beef.
5. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
6. He was as tall as a six-foot, three-inch tree.
7. The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife’s infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM machine.
8. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t
9. McBride fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a Hefty bag filled with vegetable soup.
10. Her hair glistened in the rain like a nose hair after a sneeze.
11. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
12. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left Cleveland at 6:36 p.m. traveling at 55 mph, the other from Topeka at 4:19 p.m. at a speed of 35 mph.
13. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
14. He fell for her like his heart was a mob informant, and she was the East River.
15. Even in his last years, Granddad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had rusted shut.
16. Shots rang out, as shots are wont to do.
17. The plan was simple, like my brother-in-law Phil. But unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
18. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
19. The ballerina rose gracefully en Pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a fire hydrant.
20. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a garbage truck backing up.
If nothing else, they will add life and maybe a little spice to your story.