By Karen Witemeyer
Editors are always talking about how they are looking for fresh writing, individual style, and characters that draw them into a story. Well, today I'm going to share with you my secret ingredient for baking up fresh writing.Are you ready? Here it comes . . . the life-shattering secret . . .
OK. So analogies on their own aren't going to sell your book. However, a well-crafted, unique analogy can sell your character, deepen your POV, and give your writing that pinch of freshness and originality that editors hunger for. It can be the touch of spice that sets your book apart from the others.
One of my favorite ways to deepen POV is to create fresh comparisons that are unique to my POV character's personality and background. If your hero is a western cowboy, the comparisons that mean something to him will be far different from those of a British nobleman.
This is an aspect of craft that keeps you from getting lazy. Clichés are nearly always the first comparisons that come to mind when we write. Don't accept that easy road. Work to make your analogies unique to your POV character. In doing so, you will deepen the POV and create memorable moments for your reader.
In my new release, Stealing the Preacher, I have three POV characters: the hero, the heroine, and the heroine's father. In one scene, the heroine is racing on horseback to reach her father who is out with the cattle. We are in the father's POV, and as he notes her racing in, he makes a comparison.
Now, as I wrote this scene, the first comparison that came to mind was that she rode as if a pack of wild dogs were on her tail. This, of course, is a cliché. I searched and searched for a better simile. I came up blank. Finally, I dug deeper into who my POV character was. He is an ex-outlaw who's eluded the law for two decades. He's gone straight, but that outlaw blood still runs through his veins. As I pondered this character trait, the perfect comparison finally came to mind.He twisted his neck to the side to work out a kink, and caught sight of his daughter riding down upon them as if a hangin' posse were in pursuit.
Not only does this analogy capture the POV character's personality, but it deepens the POV because that isn't something I as the author would say in narration. But it is exactly what an ex-outlaw would use as a descriptor were he relating the story.
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Joanna's already frayed emotions shredded like a piece of antique lace being dragged across a thistle patch.
It creates a vivid picture, one that provokes an answering emotional response in the reader.
Sometimes analogies can be derived from something as simple as the setting. In this example, Joanna's been working in the garden all morning. Crockett has just returned and told her that he's willing to stay on and work at her abandoned church despite the fact that her father kidnapped him earlier. The news staggers her.
In an instant, Crockett Archer was by her side, steadying her elbow with a solid grip. He angled himself slightly behind her as if he were a stake propping up a drooping bean plant.
The analogy breathes another layer of life into the scene and draws a picture that shows instead of tells what the characters are experiencing.
Now it's time for you to practice. Take a clichéd comparison and rework it with your own character in mind. Here are some to choose from:
Light as a feather
Strong as an ox
Melted like butter
Stubborn as a mule
Leave a comment with a short descriptor of your character and your reworked cliché. We'll be giving away a copy of Stealing the Preacher to one lucky commenter (US residents only).
I can't wait to see what you come up with!