How to Be a Successful Writer

Metaphors and similes can enhance your writing.

Posted May 14, 2016

DarrenHester / morguefile
Source: DarrenHester / morguefile

If you want to write: write a lot, read a lot and listen deeply.

When I read, I memorialize passages I like by marking them with post-it notes. (I can’t write in books, as I did when I was a student. Now they are my sacred texts.)

I type quotes I want to remember onto my computer, as when I read Half of a Yellow Sun, by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, in 2014:

Page 23 – “It reminded him of slicing a yam with a newly sharpened knife, the easy perfection in every slice.”

“Her oval face was smooth like an egg."

Page 32 – “Standing by the railing, looking at the tall lamps that lit up the paths below, so bright that the swimming pool looked silver and the hibiscuses and bougainvillea took on an incandescent patina over their reds and pinks…

The quotes remind me that metaphors and similes help bring writing alive.

We relate to these lines, have a sense feeling and memory, more than we would if the lines simply read, “It was easy to slice the yam with the knife” Or “Her face was smooth.” With metaphors and similes, I can feel the knife slicing through the yam, picture the oval face.

Similarly, I see the swimming pool with its silver sheen, see the incandescent patina over the reds and pinks of hibiscuses and bougainvillea.

Prompt: Note a metaphor or simile in a book you're reading, then use it as a prompt and write for ten minutes.

Copyright (c) 2016 by Laura Deutsch