Lately I’ve been carrying around the book The First Five Pages by Noah Lukeman in my purse so that I have something to read during half times at basketball games and gymnastics. Not that I don’t love watching my children play sports but it’s the end of May and I’ve been watching them since October. I’m tired.
Anyway I’ve learned a lot from this book and if I can apply even a tenth of the advice I think I’ll be doing well.
One chapter is all about comparisons. Using analogies, metaphors and similes to describe things. He says when used properly a comparison can help cut out a lot of description, which sometimes effects the pacing of the book. It could help make a tighter read.
Then he says:
While the benefits of comparison for the skilled writer can be huge, the consequences of badly worded comparison for a lesser writer can be disastrous.
What do I take from this? You have to be careful with how many comparisons you make and how you make them. It definitely is an art form. I recently read a book that used them a lot. You don’t want a paragraph that sounds like this.
John ran down the block like a banshee. He was sweating like a pig. He checked in to see his Aunt Shirley, who looked as pale as a ghost. She served him a drink which tasted as sour as lemon.
You get the picture.
Anyway since I’ve been so focused on editing lately, it’s my life really, I thought I’d ask you about comparisons. Do you like them? Do you use them?
Here's a song that uses comparisons, whether it's good or bad you decide.