Fun Friday: Tired Of Using The Same Old Descriptive Phrases And Metaphors? How To Break The Habit!

Holy smokes it’s Friday and so close to the holidays to boot! This post won’t be a Christmas special or anything, but today we’re talking how to make fresh new metaphors, smilies, and what have you for your books.

I’m making this post because I was getting so darn frustrated with feeling like I was falling back into the same bad habits every session, especially with emotions. Anger was always hot, fear was always cold. It’s like my MC was going through menopause and her period all the damn time, cold and hot flashes everywhere.

I figured that there had to be better way to come up with better stuff consistently, so I decided to do some snooping around and play test with different methods. And I finally found something helpful. I have to give credit to Rebecca McClanahan’s Word Painting for the idea. She’s a poet who writes powerful description herself, so if you’re still looking for a good description book then her book is worth checking out.

Now for this you will need:

  • A Word bank document or something to keep track of new words that you find interesting.
  • Books you love
  • A document for the exercise
  • The patience of Buddha himself (just kidding, you don’t really need this one)

If you have a kindle, this makes your life easier because you can actually get your highlighted notes and just copy and paste them over. I don’t know how this goes for other e-readers I’m afraid so bear with me.

On a side note, I also personally keep the Emotional Thesaurus on hand to help write emotion metaphors. It’s another useful writing tool that helps immensely if you have no clue where to start with describing feelings.

What To Do:

  • Step 1: Take two words that seem interesting, the more random the better, but it’s easier if they’re the same part of speech. In the middle of doing this, I found that comparing words that were different parts of speech is a nightmare. So if you want to avoid my nightmare, or valiantly charge into battle like a viking, there ya go.
  • Step 2: Compare the damn things. It helps if you prep yourself by doodling any associations that you have with either word. Also, you might want to jot down what they have in common, no matter how small or insignificant.
  • Step 3: Don’t worry if you don’t uncover shiny gems at first. You’ll write some duds, for sure. I still do, but the gems will come. It’s important to remember that even if you’re a seasoned description writer, some words just don’t mesh that well on the page and that’s okay. The important thing is that you’re getting used to making these unrelated connections, which ironically is part of the reason why fresh ones are so difficult. We don’t make the associations that easily.

Here’s some examples I came up with from my own scraps to give you an idea of how it goes:

1.Rain. Air freshener.

A warm summer rain spritzing the air like a scentless air freshener. The rain is a scentless air freshener, washing away the lingering smells of illness. 

2. Bangles. Crumbs.

Crumbs of bread of croissant fall to the floor in the shape of bangles. Croissant crumbs ring the floors like flaky bangles.

3. Dregs. Anchor.

Tea dregs cast themselves down to the bottom of my cup, tiny anchors collecting in an orange sea.

4. Coriander seeds. She has a mole I want to pick and squeeze. It’s practically a coriander seed growing on her face.

5. Semaphores. Neonsigns.

Neon signs flash like semaphores, trying to flag down youth hungry for the city’s night life.

As you can see, you don’t have to get all formal with it, and it does go to weird directions occasionally. But hey, you don’t have to show people if you don’t want to in the first place! 😀

Hopefully this helps all of you out in some form or another, but I got a get out of dodge. If you have another method that you swear by, or you have a funny metaphor that came from this, share it in the comments below. And don’t forget to have a happy holiday. 🙂



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