Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Metaphorically Speaking

Or, if you want to get really picky, it's probably more along the lines of simile-ly speaking. But that just doesn't sound as cool.

I've been reading a lot of books lately with really rich, layered language and descriptions, that make full use of descriptive metaphor and simile and really startling imagery. Inspired, I've decided to try my hand at a few. Let me know what you think.

The air between us was charged, alive, like those silver balls you find at children's science museums that you trace your fingers along and the lines of tiny lightning follow, and all of your hair stands on edge from the current. Except my hair was still as smooth and gently curled as a pure-bred Afghan hound, being trotted out for inspection at Westminster, and his hair was still as dark and unruly as the Black Forest, hair my fingers wanted to wrap around and get lost in, like a hedge maze but with better grooming and no spider-webs. As he drew closer to me, achingly close, my heart raced like a frightened rabbit in my chest. But not one of those dopey, flop-eared, domestic rabbits that drinks water out of a bottle wired to the side of the cage and sits around in its own feces because no one wants to clean out the cage. One of those stringy, half-starved, always on alert rabbits who has known nothing but fear and hiding, who darts out of the night right in front of your car and you brace yourself, waiting to see if the pert-eared creature made it or if there will be a stomach-sickening pop as you accidentally and tragically end a short, brutal life. I wasn't sure which fate my heart was about to meet, but looking at his lips, full and soft like a rose, and not a dingy, sad rose from the grocery store bouquets that feel of velvety desperation and reek of last-minute-thoughtfulness, but a full, wild rose growing on a hillside that hasn't known human hands in centuries, wild and free and full of thorns but all the sweeter for those thorns, I knew I didn't care if my rabbit heart was about to be smashed into oblivion like the particles of a tiny meteor coming into contact with an atmosphere too brilliant and infinitely hot for it to ever survive, because like that tiny meteor I knew I might be snuffed out of existence, but I would dazzle and flame out in glorious sparks, a shooting star death of my rabbit heart against his wild, thorny rose lips.

I don't know, guys. I think I'm on to something. Clearly my similes are simiMORES, not simiLESSES. Time to go edit everything I've ever written, because my style is about to get a serious upgrade. And not one of those upgrades where you have to restart your computer and wait around while it installs and inevitably leaves your clock all wonky, but one of those upgrades where you chuck your whole computer out the window and buy a new one, but not just any new one, that new Mac that you really don't need and will never use three-fourths of the features on but dangitall if it isn't just plain cooler and will instantly increase your super hip status when you take it and write in coffee shops, even if you aren't actually writing, you're just surfing the web and reading gossip columns and hating yourself for it. THAT kind of upgrade.

24 comments:

Daisy Whitney said...

Brilliant! Tres Brilliante!

Blurb Is A Verb (Sarah) said...

I think you're onto something big. And I don't mean big like a big mac, because a big Mac really isn't all that big, now that they've supersized everything and you can get burgers with four all beef patties and countless bun layers, with sesame seeds. But BIG like a zeppelin, and not the kind that bursts into flame and oh, the humanity. Big.

Jessie Oliveros said...

Ha! Love it! Thanks for the laughs. (Happy laughs, not crazy laughs like the honking of hundreds of migrating geese that leave your driveway full of poo and possibly infect you with histoplasmosis.)

(Helen) Kiaya said...

Oh my Groff, I'm laughing so hard right now. I'm laughing like a child who just saw their archnemesis fall off the swings and bump their head on the playground.

DEMETRA BRODSKY said...

It's hard to know for sure what is right. I had both a Crit partner and writing instructor tell me that some agents don't like similes. I love them. Don't get me wrong, I think they can be overused and you have to be careful of cliches. But as a visual artist (graphic designer) I feel like they help me paint a picture for the reader.

Great (and funny) post Kiersten.

Gina said...

LOLOLOL! Those static balls at the museum don't work on girls with dark, curly hair. Total rip off!

Kiersten White said...

Sarah, Jessie, and Helen: OH MY GOSH YOU GUYS ARE SO GOOD AT THIS.

Alyssa (Redhead Heroines) said...

This is amazing.

I think I just had an epiphany of my own, and not the kind of epiphany where you're like, "Q-Tips! I need to put Q-Tips on the grocery list!" because you've gone without Q-Tips for the past two weeks and you KNOW that there is probably something gross in the depths of your ear canals that is growing and growing, like a fungus that feeds on mold that feeds on bacteria. Rather, the kind of epiphany where you realize that a lack of Q-Tips probably isn't your main problem if you have fungus in your ears.

Debbie Barr said...

Kiersten, you really shouldn't write such funny things when my bladder is so full. Especially because as I'm trying to come up with good similes I'm thinking of waterfalls. And not just waterfalls but niagra falls and oceans and... I gotta go.

Delia said...

"...but with better grooming and no spider-webs." *snort*

You slay me. Not like a knight slays a dragon, but...oh, never mind.

Michelle Wolfson said...

Hey Delia, that was my favorite part too--the "but with better grooming and no spider webs."

But I'm not even going to try to match these comments because my writing sucks. Sucks like an agent. But not like an agent who writes these incredibly impressive editorial letters that will help you turn these over the top insanely excessive metaphorically simile-ly bursts of goodness into flashes of brilliance. No, like the kind of agent who calls you up and cries on the phone and begs you to consider having your characters do this or to think about having your characters do that until you want to kill her but you don't because she handles your writing career with utter brilliance. That kind of agent.

Kiersten White said...

I love that kind of agent.

Jeigh said...

That. Was so. Romantic.

Megs said...

Ack. My mind feels like a too-stretched-out rubber band after reading this. Or like a kaleidoscope.

John Hallow said...

Nice :)

@Delia: LOL

Marsha Sigman said...

This made me laugh, not a fake haha you're so cute laugh but a real OMG you are the bomb laugh.

Whirlochre said...

What's great about this is that the whole computer/Mac thing is also imagery.

Unless you really are going to make like a tantrum-crazed rock star and throw your computer out of the window.

News just in from the SAN DIEGO BUGLE*:

Bestselling author Kiersten White was last night detained by the Californo-cops for creating a disturbance at her home. Three computers and a Nerf gun were allegedly thrown from an upstairs window, incapacitating a skateboarding nun. Citing "metaphorical and other issues" as the impulse for her bizarre behaviour, White immediately apologised for her error and promised to replace her window boxes with nets. In addition, any replacement computers would be installed in her office with the bubblewrap left on. A free copy of her bestselling novel Paranormalcy was donated to St Mary's Convent For The Religious But Nonetheless Kinda Crazy along with a wind-up toy chicken and a year's supply of cupcakes.

* You're close to the border, so I figured there would be plenty of bugles.

Ciara Glynn said...

Whirlochre...you're the type of funny person that has to be seen to be believed. Luckily, you're icon is staring me down like Po in the Kung Fu Panda trailer, only slightly less innocently, and a lot more sinister-ly, and making me feel quite concerned for my safety, so I'm just gonna nod my head and say 'I believe it! She's hilarious! She should be a comedian, I SWEAR it! I really do! Ha...haha...hahaha' and make like a cheeta. A cheeta in a Tony Scott film. Who is driven on my a freight train, backed up by a bullet train, with Denzel Washington at the wheel/pedal/engine/whatever. THAT kind of cheeta. You know. A non-existant cheeta.

LinWash said...

Ha ha! You're hilarious!

I can tell you've read Chime by Franny Billingsley. She is the Queen of Figurative Language.

lora96 said...

My head exploded. Maybe it's the five-months-pregnant-and-still-barfing-all-the-time-brain I have right now...but WOW UR GIFTED!

Kristen said...

Can I just be Delia? I love this blog! I love the intelligence level of the posters! I want to live here!

Kiersten White said...

I love this blog, too, Kristen. Best commenters and readers EVER.

Kate said...

Yeah, maybe slightly over the top, if that was actually in a book I was reading I'd be like who cares about the details before the kiss! Just kiss already! And then give my the detailed feeling of the kiss! Man I hope her rabbit heart explodes! Explodes like brilliant fireworks that fit perfectly in the night time sky, because they know they belong their, they own it, with their royal amethyst, emeralds and rubies. :)
Man, you can tell I can't wait until the fourth of July! Go fireworks! I think blasting fireworks into the sky should be like a weekly thing, just saying. . . :)

Carol Holaday said...

OMG, loved that. I laughed so hard I snorted, which didn't sound so good but made me laugh even harder.