Monday, June 16, 2008

Super Similes

I recently read Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes. He, as usual, provided an excellent read with interesting, quirky characters and a quiet plot. I was also struck by his masterful similes:

A house "neglected for quite a while, so that all its lines, angles, and corners were softened like the edges of a well-used bar of soap." pg. 2.

" . . . a twitch of excitement spread over him like a stain." pg.25.

A dog that "circled and circled, then settled down, curling up like a cashew." pg. 30.

Lilacs "long past their prime, brown, like clusters of scorched popcorn." pg. 46.

Before a storm, "the low clouds moved fast, like rolling clumps of steel wool." pg. 121.

Laura Backes, writing about similes and metaphors in the June 13th issue of the CBI e-mail newsletter, makes the point that metaphors and similes should fit naturally with the characters in the story. I agree. So thinking of the steel wool scrubbing pads in my kitchen, I wondered about using this last simile in a book with two boys as main characters. Then I remembered that "clumps of steel wool" could also be used in a woodworking class to sand and finish a project. So it fits after all.

1 comment:

  1. In his book, On Writing, Stephen King has a brief section about similes. King says one of his all-time favorite similes is from a hardboiled-detective book by Raymond Chandler: "I lit a cigarette [that] tasted like a plumber's handkerchief." Hmm. I guess that one wouldn't fly in a children's book. Or would it? The narrator does remind me of Artemis Fowl. Maybe it's only a matter of time.