Tuesday’s Tip

When you use analogies, examples, similes and/or metaphors, couch them in terms your main character would understand. This works even if your story’s written in third person! So, if your MC is a seaglass collector (like moi), make a list of related words from which to draw for creating figurative language. Seaglass can appear tumbled, “cooked”, or etched; in can come in shapes ranging from teardrops to triangles. Colors like pink and red are rare so a good day for your MC might be a pink glass day. 

When I was trying to evoke a sense of Japanese culture in The Friendship Doll, I wrote this line about the man who created Miss Kanagawa, the Friendship Doll character referred to in the book’s title: “Though he [the doll-maker] wasn’t like Kurita — a man whose endless boasts clanged like the chappa cymbal– he was proud of his efforts.” I compared Kurita’s bragging to a Japanese cymbal, both to show how loud and clanging it could be, and to give the flavor of the place.

Because Hattie (in Hattie Big Sky) was a baseball player, when her crops are destroyed by a late summer hailstorm, this is how she experienced it: “Like a pitcher on fire, throwing fastball after fastball, heaven struck me out and good.”

And in The Fences Between Us, which is set in WWII after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the main character, 13-year-old Piper, talks about holding a little baby so his mom can whip cream for the pie after Thanksgiving dinner: “We played peekaboo and his laugh was better than a bubble bath, washing away all that dreary war talk.” 

Let me know how this tip works for you!

No Responses to “Tuesday’s Tip”

  1. Faith E. Hough

    I love this tip! I try to be aware of only using ideas that would occur to my mc, but I’d never made a list of ones to draw from. Great idea!

  2. Jim Dillon

    I’m not a writer, but I appreciate and enjoy thoroughly your thought process and illustrations. Thanks Kirby!

  3. Augusta Scattergood

    This and your color-coded 3X5 card tip (for writing scenes)= both terrific ideas. Since I’m traveling and don’t have a computer loaded up with my favorite Scrivener software that has built-in 3X5 cards, I’m off to grab some “real” 3X5s.
    Thanks for the tips, Kirby.