Comparisons, we all make them whether we are aware of it or not. We do this for emphasis in making clear a point we’re trying to make. In writing we use comparisons for the same reason, but add to that, visuals. If we want our readers to know just how big something is, we need to go beyond using the word big or huge or even gargantuan. Readers want to SEE the hugeness. Two forms of comparison writers use to accomplish this is:
Simile–Comparing using the words like or as.
His mouth was thick like paste.
The cat’s eyes glowed in the dark like twin moons.
When I was in high school, I went to the Rueben Daniels Center of the Arts and Sciences. In my dance class we learned about theme and variation. What we had to do was choreograph a dance routine that was about one minute in length. Once we had our routine down, we had to choreograph two more dance routines based on the first one. More precisely, they had to be variations of the first by modifying it somehow without changing it completely. With writing this can also be done. Create a scene. Then, create two more scenes by varying the first scene. But, don’t vary things too drastically. It needs to be clear that your varied scenes are essentially the first scene but with slight differences.
What does this do? It works at developing creativity. It’s like a brain workout except its “bench pressing” words instead. So…have fun with it and think outside the box.
Personification–Giving inanimate objects human qualities.
The flowers danced in the wind.
The wind reached its fingers inland, grabbing those it could at high rates of speed.
The sun smiled down as it lit up the day.
As you can see, giving human qualities to inanimate objects goes a long way when it comes to putting emphasis on various aspects of what you’re writing. Doing so also makes your writing stand out in way of creating better visuals for your reader.
Tip: Give yourself an arsenal of ideas to pull from by brainstorming examples of personification (and other literary/poetic devices) and writing them in your writing journal.
You’re in the middle of writing a story. You are at a point in your creation where you need to add some friction or a tense moment. You know what needs to go into the scene. You can see it in front of you (so to speak). But, what can you do to intensify the suspense? Yes, you know what will cause it, but how can you bring it more to life and jump off the page? Word choice. Not just any choice of words either. You need words with certain sounds that, when put together, bring about a certain feeling or whatever feeling you’re trying to convey.
What sounds in the following sentences add to the intended feeling?
Tension–The stranger’s body thunked to the ground, when the knife pierced his chest.
Eerie–The air’s cold finger touched the back of my neck in spite of the warm breeze coming in off the lake. The shadow wafted over the sand, paused, then glided onward.
Joy–The shiny bells glistened in the candlelight, as the children opened their presents.
Sadness–Tears formed in the corner of her eyes then trickled down her cheeks as she gazed into the casket that contained the mother she never got to know.
Whichever sounds you use in your writing is up to you, but using various literary devices can certainly help with this. Some of them are listed below.
In future posts I will cover each of these more in depth. In this post I just wanted to bring them to the surface. I know though that we use these devices regularly in our writing without thinking about them. But, when you are writing a particular scene and need to create a certain feeling and nothing is coming to you, then the above devices are a great arsenal to draw from.
Do you listen to anything while you are writing? More specifically, do you listen to music while you write? I have found that it helps inspire certain types of scenes. For example, if you are writing a romantic scene, you might listen to some easy listening type of music. Also, if you need inspiration for danger within a scene, you could listen to music that brings across that feeling of foreboding.
Years ago I was listening to some music while writing some poetry. As a happy surprise, when reading the poem later after it was finished, I was told by others that they could “hear” a song while reading it because there was a cadence to the words as they read them.
Add music to your “playdough” mix of words. The results may surprise you.
While you write, you accumulate many many pages of writings. Some of them you use and some of them you don’t. You may even keep a journal with your ideas in it. Or, you might also have a three ring binder you keep notes and writings in. After some months or years, you publish a novel or two. What do YOU do with your notes and writings after you’ve published your book(s)? Do you keep them? Do you throw them away?
If you throw them away, that’s your choice. You are well within your rights to do that. BUT, that means later you can’t go back and look over them when you need inspiration. Yes, inspiration. Let’s say you’re in the middle of writing book 3 and you are stuck. Will you have those old writings to draw from? You never know what might get your “gears” going again.