16 July 2013

similes and metaphors

First a little business. We've passed the submission deadline for the August 2013 issue of Electric Spec. If you got your story in: Hurray for you. If not: we're now accepting submissions for the November 2013 issue. Good luck! In general: thank you authors! We wouldn't exist without you. :)
Please don't email us and ask us what the status of your story is. It clogs up our email and makes it that much slower for us to read the actual story submissions.
We're having the next production meeting at the beginning of August, so all submitters--including those in hold-for-votting--will hear back from us by about August 7.

Now, on to some fun stuff: similes and metaphors. Similes and metaphors are an important part of your writing arsenal. Every single author should be using them; they make stories richer. Similes and metaphors are easy to get mixed up (I know I do). A simile is when an author directly compares two things using a word like "like", "as", "than", or a verb such as "resembles". :) A metaphor is when an author describes a subject by asserting that it is the same as an unrelated object. So, notice a simile differs from a metaphor in that the latter compares two unlike things by saying that the one thing is the other thing.

The important point for writers to remember--especially speculative fiction writers--is your similes and metaphors need to be consistent and compatible with the character and the world. Moreover, they can be used to create those characters and world. Think about it. A rural character in a macabre tale will use much different similes and metaphors than an alien in a science fiction tale. Ooh! I just got an image of a hillbilly on an alien world... :)

In terms of tips, it's rarely a good idea to have more than one simile and/or metaphor in one sentence. It's rarely a good idea to use a mixed metaphor or simile (unless you're going for humor).
Does anyone have any favorite similes or metaphors they care to share?

Now your homework assignment: look at your most recent work and make sure you have some similes and metaphors. Then, make sure they are unique to that story, to that character, to that world. Good luck!


Kat Heckenbach said...

I also think metaphors and similes need to not be too close to the original image. I recently read a manuscript where someone's damp shirt clung to her like a wet paper towel. Well, yes. But you might as well say her damp shirt clung like wet fabric which is saying exactly the same thing twice. It's far too close. The idea is to create an image that isn't expressed with the description alone. A damp shirt clinging says it all, no need for comparison.

Anyway, the tip about making sure you stick with something consistent to your story world is a great one!

lesleylsmith said...

Your comment about not being too close to the original is also very helpful. Thanks, Kat!