Wednesday, June 21, 2006

As Bad As A...really bad thing.

So I'm working. Well, sort of working, anyway. My current WIP needs pretty much an entire re-write, top to bottom, which is a little discouraging, but 've realized a couple of things about my characters that means my initial scenes are totally off. So back to the drawing board. Better now than later, eh? Still sucks though.

Anyway, I was thinking about comparisons, about similes and metaphors, and how they're used, and what uses are cliche. Like how "cold as death" is cliche. It still works, or rather, still can work, but it's an oft-used simile and so one to try and avoid.

Coming up with new ones is hard, though, isn't it? Especially when you have a mind like mine that runs to understatement and silliness. Especially when your secret fantasy is to someday write a romance spoof, an anachronistic historical, one that uses every cliche in the business. (Seriously. I dream of this and how amusing it could be if I could do it right.)

Today as I made ready to hop in the shower, I closed the windows. It's a little cool outside today and I didn't want to freeze when I got out of the bathroom wearing only a towel. (The bathroom window is usually closed. I don't trust those people across the street not to peep at me as I brush my teeth. Call it paranoia, I don't care.) I was thinking how cold it was, and the phrase, "Cold as a cold, cold ass" went through my mind.

That's right, folks. Cold as a cold, cold ass.

That's poetry, that is. I should win a Pulitzer for that one.

But really, don't we all think of stupid comparisons like that? Similes or metaphors that just don't work, not in English or any other language? That say nothing, and say it badly?

I once read something about this subject, and the writer used an example from-I believe-Erica Jong. The phrase was, "the dawn sky was the color of fuschianated water in some half-forgotten apothecary jar", or something like that. Sounds poetic, if a bit odd, but it the only word that tells us anything about the actual sky is "fuschianated". (Which I might have spelled wrong.) All the other stuff is wasted, pretentious muddle words thrown in to try and make the line sound smarter than it is.

It's not necessarily the fault of the writer, though, because we all do stuff like that. We all write that stuff, in a desperate attempt to find a way to express ourselves that's original, that grabs the reader, that says what we want it to say without resorting to the tired old standards.

What was yours? What simile or metaphor or whatever did you think of, maybe even wrote down, that you later realized either made no sense or was just plain ridiculous?

Or did you read one somewhere that you want to share? (Please do!)

Me and my cold, cold ass will be waiting eagerly to read them.


Anonymous said...

Hotter than Three Mile Island.

Wrong as two men on a tandem bicycle.

Or, for romance:

My heart was a hummingbird.

Or, for just kinky verse:

I hoped her love trail was the road less traveled.

I thought it would be fun to try. -JTC

Bernita said...

Of course it's over used, but I always liked the expression "colder than a witch's tit."

Anonymous said...

Or, colder than brass tits on a boar hog.

Bernita said...

Never heard that one...

Sam said...

Sometimes the similies and metaphors get a little over the top... LOL
Clich├ęs aren't great but one or two per novel doesn't bother me too much.
Hate re-writes. I have to take a book apart and put it together before I can do anything with it and I'm already frustrated. Argh. LOL

S. W. Vaughn said...

LMAO -- my cold, cold ass, that is. Love the title of this post too!

When my brother was five years old (he's the youngest of four of us) we were all up late one summer night telling ghost stories to each other. When it was my brother's turn, he made up a monster called "The Horrible." Part of the story went like this:

"And The Horrible (dramatic pause) was as horrible (dramatic pause) as a STUPID... PERSON!"

The Horrible also had ten thousand stupid eyes and ten stupid noses (and more dramatic pauses). Looking back, I'd say that comparison was pretty accurate: a stupid person was the most horrible thing my five-year-old brother could come up with!

December Quinn said...

LOL, JTC! I especialy like the second and the last!

Yeah, Bernita, I think the "cold, cold ass" was a subliminal attempt to riff on that one.

Never heard of the "boar hog" one, Anonymous! I like it!

December Quinn said...

Sorry about the rewrites, Sam. I totally feel your pain, as I'm doing the same thing right now. Urgh.

Hi moonpunter.

SW, that's awesome! As horrible as a stupid person. I totally wish I could use that one!

S. W. Vaughn said...

What's with this Moonpunter fellow? Who is he saving the world from? Bugger off, you! We don't want salvation. :-)

Anonymous said...

So, I guess I'm going to have to get used to an ice-covered tree? How 'bout something "warmer" for your avitar (or whatever that little icon-thing is called). :)

December Quinn said...

I got sick of looking at my own face, J, so I grabbed this. It's only temporary.

You know, I keep hoping to find that Perfect Avatar one day. An avatar that will so perfectly express me that I'll never get tired of seeing it.

Should it bother me that a picture of myself wasn't it? :-)

I'll keep hunting.

A. M. said...

JTC - ice trees are perfect when suffering through a neverending HEAT WAVE. Trust me on this.

Most awful? That crying like an annoying drippy faucet thingy from one of EE's submissions. Actually, that's an excellent source for really bad ones.