Monday, July 28, 2014

Word Seasoning

You might've come across a book with some out of the box metaphors and similes. I'm currently reading The Steel Remains by Richard Morgan. This book makes me so happy. The characters' voices are kinda badass. I can't help highlighting lines.
"Ringil manufactured a smile of his own- it felt like an obscenity as it crawled across his face, it felt like a wound." 
"The rage stormed the other man's face again, and this time it held its ground." 
Awesome. I'd love to write like that. For my current book, Chains of the Sciell, I have two characters who talk like that- Aliceanna Carlton and Vayle Slaughter.

I love these characters, but editing their chapters takes forever. I go over them once to see what I'm dealing with. I let the story sit for a couple of hours while I think about it. Then, I go back and really dig in. Sometimes, I'll stare at a paragraph, tweaking it until I come up with something I'm satisfied with.

Here are some of my favorites:
"The voice glazed more smut over her soiled insides."

"Slugs burping slime out their back ends had become her blood."

"Why did human females crawl all over him like leeches? He’d smile and they'd melt as though he’d given them a long hard knocking between the legs."
To come up with some badass description, you'll need to:

Read
A lot. You'll need to collect examples of the types of descriptions you like. They'll be in your head so you can spit them out when you're writing. You know those moments when you use a "big" word correctly and you have no idea how you knew what that word meant. Inhaling witty language produces the same results. Most of the time, you won't know if the story has the language you want until you start reading.

Make friends with the thesaurus
We already have a thesaurus in easy reach or bookmarked. My favorite is thesaurus.com. I always marvel at sentences like the ones from The Steel Remains. Most characters don't "manufacture" smiles. I always wonder how authors think of those lines. I consult a thesaurus the most when I'm in Aliceanna and Vayle's heads. This is one of the reasons writing their chapters takes so long.

Balance
One of the reasons lines like the ones from The Steel Remains have so much impact is because I don't come across them in every sentence. My characters' descriptions get creative in emotionally charged situations, usually when they're pissed, or when they're interacting with a certain character.  For instance, Vayle has a habit of insulting another character, but he never talks like that with anyone else.

Turning every sentence into a metaphor and simile stew will take forever. Reading it will feel like an English Lit assignment. Write the chapter without all the creative wording. As you edit it, feel it out. If you think a sentence needs a little word seasoning, go for it. If you think a sentence is fine the way it is, leave it alone. 
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