There is one simile that mutters lazy. It’s more thoughtless than the most common of cliches. It’s so bland and pointless it has no business even calling itself a simile. It evokes less than nothing. It’s boring. Dull. Dried up like a dog turd on concrete during a drought.
It sucks the life out of whatever you’re trying to convey.
A simile should be evocative or convey a new dimension to whatever you’re describing. Trite or cliched similes are bad enough, and those should be avoided as well. But I’d argue this one simile is not only hackneyed but worse than your average cliche.
Ditch this empty simile every single time it turns up in your writing. The only time you should ever use it is as a placeholder when you’re breezing through a first draft and don’t want to pause to think of something better on the fly. But you must replace it with something stronger, richer, more colorful and more creative. Or just leave it out altogether, because it’s better to use no simile at all than this lifeless, lame, zombie-brained excuse for a simile.
Continue Reading Ditch This Lazy Simile
And why you shouldn’t fear using them
First things first: I am not a trademark attorney. If you want legal advice on using trademarks, please consult a legal professional. However, if you want the point of view of someone who has managed numerous worldwide trademarks in her career in marketing, and also writes novels, read on.
Am I allowed to use trademarks in fiction? Won’t I get sued?
Across the online writers’ groups I frequent, I’ve seen this question more times than I can count. Unfortunately, questions about trademarks in fiction are inevitably followed by innocent misconceptions, wrongheaded advice, and blatant fearmongering. Continue Reading Trademarks in Fiction
The three pillars of characterization
Good characterization is a matter of discipline. Regardless of how you go about creating fictional characters, it’s their behaviors, thoughts, and actions that convey their characterization. If you tell the reader your character is a deep thinker with a goal of spiritual growth, then portray her as preening, superficial and manipulative in her actions, dialogue and thoughts, nobody is going to buy it.
Do, Say, & Think are simply a way to boil down action, dialogue and interior dialogue/narrative in a character’s point of view (POV).
I can tell you that The Dude in The Big Lebowski is “so laid back,” but nothing conveys that as well as his introduction. He shuffles in slippers and a bathrobe through a grocery store, drinks milk straight from the carton, then attempts to pay for it by check. I can tell you Walter Sobchak is temperamental, but nothing will convey that quite like him pulling a gun on a fellow bowler for letting a toe slip over the line. I can tell you Donny is a clueless nitwit, but nothing conveys it better than him piping in with the non-sequitur “I am the walrus” while The Dude and Walter try to discuss Lenin (not Lennon).Continue Reading Do, Say, & Think
Tuesday Evening, 85°F and hazy
Listening to The Zombies—This Will Be Our Year
Smokin’ & Cryin’ – a novel
The Rise and Fall of Smoky Topaz
August 27, 1972. Robin Chelsea, teenage lead singer of Smoky Topaz, disappears into the Atlantic Ocean mere weeks before the group’s double album, Smokin’ & Cryin’, is released. Recorded over one blistering Savannah summer in the dungeon of an antebellum mansion, it’s threaded with candid snippets of the band members’ dirty secrets, bitter arguments, and deepest fears.
In the wake of Robin’s disappearance, Smokin’ & Cryin’ flies off store shelves and dominates radio airwaves to become the obsession of a generation of music lovers. But what really happened to Robin Chelsea?
More than four decades later, the discovery of Robin’s candid writings—juxtaposed with news clippings, legal documents, reviews, letters, personal notes, and interviews—make it possible to finally piece together the tangled truth behind this mysterious rock and roll legend.
I couldn’t be more excited to finally bring you my second novel, Smokin’ & Cryin’. It has been a long time coming.
Set in the early 1970s, it’s the first-person narrative of teenage rock vocalist Robin Chelsea and is interspersed with epistolary elements. It was a blast to write, and I sure hope you’ll find it a blast to read.Continue Reading Smokin’ & Cryin’ – coming soon!
Tuesday Evening, 73°F and clear
Listening to The Beatles—Dear Prudence
This is for every Pearl Jam fan who doesn’t think Stone Gossard gets anywhere near as much credit as he deserves. Ellie, Clive, and Saint all understand who the sacred heart of Pearl Jam really is. Oh my god, Stone, hell yes.
Read about these hardcore Pearl Jam fans in my tragicomic novel, State of Love & Trust.