Friday, June 30, 2017
What makes a book "good"? Part 2 - Similes
Originality was the focus of my first post in this series, and that elements carries through in this post. One of the hallmarks of good writing is the use of original similes. Similes are often word pictures, and as a visual learner, I appreciate how they make the text come alive. Here are some examples from some good books I have recently read, and a few quotes from my two novels in waiting (waiting to be published)!
"Our guilt coated the house like pollen" (Bohjalian 39). This line in The Sleepwalker is a perfect example of how "good" writing contains similes that are original and have veritas.
"The sun was a red bindi dot on the forehead of the sky as they started their walk," (Umrigar 33). Thrity Umrigar has so many stunning similes it is hard to choose just one, but this line from The World we Found stuck out.
"From the moment she began to boil the water for breakfast, she never sat down but was always busy with the children, the washing, the meals, the garden, the animals. Her days were all the same, like a rosary of identical beads shaping her existence" (Allende, Of Love and Shadows, 14). It's important that the simile relate to the theme of the book (I think). It pulls everything together nicely, and as Catholicism is one of the themes of this book by Isabel Allende, the simile is appropriate.
"At night it creaked softly, like a weary, rheumatic old woman" (Allende 26).
"A cool breeze blew through the trees, and Ledu and I held each other, laid out side by side on the thin blanket, like two knobby walking sticks" (Sweeting, Remnant). I had different wording for this, but I was trying to think of something in Ibo culture to relate to, and came up with this.
"The mother was already thin, her arms like sugar cane stalks" (Sweeting, Remnant). Again, sugar cane is commonly grown in Nigeria, so I thought this might be an appropriate simile.
"Three stories high, the house boasted a wrap-around porch, fitting as snugly as a babe on a mother’s back, pots of geraniums, marigolds and camellias brightening the porch and scenting the air" (Sweeting, Remnant).
"Her eyes were swollen and red, her hair looked like a cross between Medusa and a spider web, and there was dried snot on the side of her face" (Sweeting, Expecting). This novel is American and contemporary.
"It’s almost like an unwritten taboo. If you’re deaf or hard of hearing, you stay in the community. I think it’s a bigger taboo than marrying outside your race, or your religion" (Sweeting, Expecting). In this book I am working on now, the reference is to a deaf person marrying a hearing person.
Please let me know what you think of these similes, and share some of your favorites!