Similes: They’re Like Similes

So this week’s Writing Wednesday sees a blogger friend if mine do a guest blog. So, enjoy!

Richard Leonard calls himself a writer because he writes. He gets paid to write software and he once completed a course in Writing Believable Fiction so he could improve the progress reports he writes for the boss. He quickly realised he could apply that knowledge to the actual fiction he writes behind the boss’s back. In his own time, of course. Richard has written the best part of three novels and many short stories. Given that no-one is helping him there’s a good chance he’s written the worst parts too. Richard aims to focus on one of them and finish it. He has never attempted to publish anything because he lives in an eternal “This isn’t good enough” state of mind.

G’day! Richard here. Sincere thanks go to Liam for inviting me to guest-post on his blog. Or is that guest-blog on his blog? Anyway, what to write about, I asked him. Writing, he said. Yes, I will be writing but what will I be writing about? Writing! Write about any aspect of writing. Oh, okay. Gotcha. *Wink* *Smile*

* * *

Similes are like smiles. Apart from the obvious wordplay, they are refreshing, satisfying, they can brighten up a dull story and ultimately draw your readers in. Like smiles, similes can be very powerful.
So how should they be used?
In case you need a refresher, similes are a type of metaphor that makes a comparison using ‘like’ or an equivalent word. But their true power is more than simply making a beautiful comparison to brighten up someone’s day. Here are a couple of ways a simile can be used to great effect.
● Strengthen the atmosphere of the story. Compare with themes from the same genre. For example, in a space-based sci-fi story you might compare a fast-approaching asteroid with an interplanetary bulk freighter in terms of size. You wouldn’t compare it with circus elephant — it would probably dilute your sci-fi theme a little. Unless of course your sci-fi story prominently features a circus with performing elephants orbiting alien planets…
● Show your character with appropriate similes. For example, “Forgive me if I’m all over the place like a blowie round a cow pat” is a simile I used in one of my first-person WIP’s to show that the narrator is familiar with large flies, cows and dung, and is therefore probably from a rural area. If the sentence had read “Forgive me if I’m all over the place like a bicycle courier during rush hour”, you would be forgiven for thinking she’s from the city. This wouldn’t gel with any other references to her country life, especially if she has rarely been to the city. Awkward.
● Locations. Again, describe a location using a simile by comparing with somewhere a character in the story has experienced, rather than a place the reader is likely to be familiar with. Obviously if the story is set in the same world and time as the reader’s, then you’re free to go wild. This applies more to fantasy and other-world type stories. I think you’re getting the idea.

But don’t get too carried away. It’s all about balance. Some neutral similes can work well too. Use in moderation. Less is more, and all that. Just beware of the inappropriate ones and you’ll be fine.

Questions: How do you use similes? Are there other ways that work for you? Have you seen examples of similes that made you sit up and think, “Wow!”? Or not? Are there cases where the above bad examples would really work?

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Weekly Writing Challenge: Placards

No words came out. I wanted to groan, my body ached, but no words came out. I want to ask where I am, but no words come out. Anything, anything at all, somehow I can’t say anything.

I see the doctors looking at me, they’re emotionless. They just stare at me, watching. I try to talk, and ask them the many questions on my mind. But once again, my mouth moves, and no words come out. They could see my problem, and one of the doctors goes to his desk. He grabs a whiteboard, and begins to write on it. Immediately, my mind began to interpret what had happened.
Now, I know you have a lot of questions…” it said.
“Yes.” I replied. He knew, and passed me the whiteboard. On it, I wrote: Yes. What happened?

He took the placard from me. He took a while, and when he showed me what he wrote. He had written so much that he had to make his handwriting small to fit it all in. I had to squint to read. It said:

You were in an accident. Since then, things have…changed. We no longer communicate the way we used to. Technology, mobile phones, texts… All forms of communication – gone. From now on, we have no voice. The only way we can communicate is through placards, whiteboards… It is the only way.

I looked at him, confused. “So I have no voice?” I asked, still unable to comprehend that I cannot speak. He understood though, and was able to lip read.
No.” he replied, he passed over the whiteboard. On it, I wrote.
My wife – where is she?”

He opened the door, she was there, she looked up, smiled, and ran over, arms spread out. I accepted her hug. We held it like that, both crying. The doctor nodded. I was discharged, and allowed to leave the hospital.

We sat in the chairs in the waiting room. She looked at me, she had her own placard. On it, she wrote: “Are you OK?”
I nodded, and took the whiteboard. “I know what happened… I’m OK, I just, need to get the hang of things. It’s a new world, not like the one I used to live in.”
She smiled, and wrote: “Thank goodness you’re OK… I love you.”

I smiled back, and leant towards her, for a kiss. But immediately, she stopped me, and wrote something on the whiteboard.
You can’t… Kissing is a form of communication. We can’t do that no more…”
Then I want to let you know that I love you.” I replied. “What can we do instead?”
Explore the new world you live in.” She smiled, outstretching her hand. I took it, and she led me outside the hospital, we looked each other in the eyes, and chose to explore the new world…

The summary of the live blog…

Part One: Missed Train (15:45-16:04pm GMT)

So after 30 minutes of preparation, we drove to the nearest train station. But, like a scene from a dramatic movie, we arrived to see our would-be train drive away. So now we’ve got a 15 minute wait for the next one. So I’ve seized the opportunity to post this. Part Two will be when we go on the next train.

Part Two: The Train Arrives (16:05-17:03pm GMT)

So I am now on the train. Very good as it means we’ve got tables! I rarely get them on trains, so that is good. Whilst I travel to the concert I guess I’ll probably be on Twitter and listening to music. But the problem is that the signal is bad, and takes forever to upload things. Part Three will be later, when I get off the train.

Part Three: Where Now? (17:04pm – 17:28pm GMT)

So I’ve arrived at St. Pancras, which involved me being asked “Do you smoke?!” by a girl – bit awkward… And witnessed an epic moment where a man just caught his train, just as the doors closed – epic.

Now I’m on the tube to Leicester Square, as we’ve got some time in our hands to look around.

Part Four: In a Pub, Watching Telly: (17:29pm – 18:02pm GMT)

We’ve found a pub, and the rugby is on, so it’s very… loud. But it’s got free Wi-Fi! So we’re waiting now… It starts around 6, so we’ve still got some time.

Part Five: China Town: (18:03pm – 19:09pm GMT approx.)

We have moved from the pub to China Town. I am now in a restaurant ready to have some Chinese!

And on the way, we saw a bunch of girls screaming as the “Janoskians” were nearby. Who are they?

Part Six: Back on The Tube, It’s Nearly Concert Time! (19:10 – 20:00pm GMT)

After having a three course Chinese, we’re going back to the concert venue. It’s nearly time!

Part Seven: Done (23:00pm-1:07am GMT)

I am now on the train home after an epic concert. I will explain more tomorrow on my Weekly Update. Thanks for following me on the journey!

Liam

imPRESSive: Webisode One – Blog Names and URLs

Welcome to imPRESSive. For those who are new to my blog – Hello, I am Liam, a.k.a. The Life of a Thinker…

This idea of imPRESSive came from a similar documentary appearing on YouTube called Becoming YouTube, which talked about YouTubers and the different elements of YouTube. So, I thought that I would start a documentary blogumentary about WordPress, and the different elements it involves and provides.

Webisode One: Blog Names and URL’s:

When somebody starts a blog, apart from having the desire to write about something, they need to get themselves out there, and the main way of doing that is by having an eye – catching blog name or URL (example.wordpress.com or example.org).

What most viewers like is consistency, and like it when a blogger or person sticks to the same name/nickname when it comes to blogs and social networks. For example, my blog, Twitter and Facebook are all called The Life of a Thinker, and it allows us to have a link with our readers. Most of us have blog names and URL’s that are of a personal connection to us…

“My name came about because my nan used to love Countdown the TV show and we always used to argue about the Conundrum. I didn’t want to use anything like that, so I thought I created a unique name. It is my name all over the web. I have since learned that Kanundra is indeed an actual name.” – Kanundra

“I started blogging to chronicle my pregnancy and the song “The Waiting” by Tom Petty was always in my head at the time, so it was a logical choice to call my blog The Waiting. Now that the baby is here, though, I’ve kept the name because the idea of waiting on something that I’m not quite sure of is pertinent to where I am in this stage of my life.”– Emily @ The Waiting

“For my food blog it really didn’t take a long time. I needed to change my lifestyle and it was kind of a smart ass way of saying change was good for me. As for my writing blog, it took me a bit longer because all the good names I wanted at first were taken. So I finally came up with “To Breathe is to Write”. That pretty well sums up how I feel about writng. It’s something I just have to do.”– Change is Good… Right/To Breathe is to Write

“The decision process on whether or not I wanted to try it took time, but once I made the decision everything else was pretty quick and easy after that.”– All Means Something

“Yes it did actually, not weeks or anything just a few hours.. I really wanted something that would describe me in my entirety, and that wouldn’t have a focus, this would allow me write whatever I decided to. I’ll be the first to admit it…I am totally random.”– West African Princess

“I’ve freshly returned to the blogging scene after a few years hiatus and have decided to keep it as my name. It’s easier to remember, although the thought of registering my own domain with name does seem inviting.”– Salman

So basically, blog names and URL’s are usually quicker to make and helpful in the long term if they have a personal connection. For example, mine derives from the fact that I love psychology and thought – provoking things, and some can come from some small things in people’s lives. But with people using pseudonyms rather than their actual names, but why is this the case?

” I suspect it might have to do with anonymity and personal security. Because I also have a business that is related to my blog (as do many, many bloggers), I chose a company name that reflects that business. But I don’t hide my name; in fact, I sign it to every blog post.”– Change it Up Editing

“I think that using our own names in the blog makes it seem a little pretentious and even though we are basically talking of our own lives, something about using my name as a tittle seems a little Kanye West-y, very self-centered. Even though most of the time we talk about ourselves what we seek is that connection with the readers, to make new friendships and relationships.”– Dola Cotidiana

“To keep some privacy so they can’t be discriminated for what they blog about.”– Georgina

“Just like book titles, a blog name needs to catch the readers attention, intrigue them, make them come visit your page. And a URL needs to be easy to remember and spell so access to the site isn’t difficult.”– Ashley Nicole Books

“Blog names are important because a good one will tell someone what the blog is about straight away. The URL is important as well as you can share the link with people on Twitter to get your blog more well known!”– Luton Town News Blog

So as well as that personal connection that viewers make with the name of the blog, is there anything else which is of importance when it comes to naming a blog?

“It is a reflection of my professional image. I learned long ago that having a professional email address and domain name are important to building a professional image. If I want to make a good first impression, I need to come across as professional. So, even though each of my professional sites are free WordPress blogs, I still have a domain name for each one and redirect to them.”– Quiller

“I think they should be important because it describes who you are. Plus you must always create an URL or blog name that will not be forgotten, easy to remember.”– Daniel in Wonderland

“I think people choose the name of their blog based on what the blog is about, the topic they believe the reader wants to read about and can relate to. “Ziya’s blog” doesn’t communicate much regarding what my blog is about, but “a day with depression” is something I imagine most people can relate to, even if they are not or never have been mentally ill. My name does not matter as much as my experiences and thoughts, which are the focus of the blog.”– A Day With Depression

“Blogging can be a personal experience for some people. Not everyone wants the first thing that comes up when an employer Google’s them, to be their taxidermy blog or their blog about their grandmother’s cooking. For certain types of blogs the authors likely enjoy the anonymity they have to share their lives in a safe cyber-community they’ve built on their own.”– Eclectic Kneads

“Yes, I’ve seen a bit of this. Maybe they’re hiding! Maybe they don’t believe their name is relevant. It’s all about the subject matter. It could be for marketing reasons if their own names are not so conducive to selling books. There’s probably a different reason for each person out there doing it.”– Richard Leonard

Personally, the name of the blog or the blog URL should not be thought about too much, but should be thought about as this is what people will assign to their blog and will be engraved in their memories when visiting their sites. What the name should be is something which reflects them, but not their name, as they are unlikely to be found on Google due to Facebook profiles of the same name appearing and lowering your view and will therefore not be SEO.

So, there we go. If you are starting up a blog, think of something that reflects you. Like writing? Call yourself The Avid Writer for example. It can be simple, or complicated (which helps with making your blog unique).

FOLLOW THE BLOGGING PROCESS!

I’ve set up another blog, and if you have, you can follow my advice from starting a blog to getting views. Throughout the 6 weeks, I’ll be providing tips on this page!

The Contributing Bloggers:
Kanundra
Emily @ The Waiting
Change is Good… Right/To Breathe is to Write
Change it Up Editing
Dola Cotidiana
Georgina
Quiller
Daniel in Wonderland
Richard Leonard
A Day With Depression
Ashley Nicole Books
Eclectic Kneads
All Means Something
West African Princess
Luton Town News Blog
Salman Alvi

Join the discussion: @lifeofathinker and #DocPRESS

Liam

Next Week: The Blogger Persona – What characteristics does a successful blogger need to have?

BREAKING NEWS: Live Blog Details Revealed, and 1 Day Until imPRESSive! | The Friday Article

*Apologies for the long title, but there’s a lot to talk about in this issue*

This issue sees blogger The Life of a Thinker, Liam O’Dell reveal the details of his live blog, which occurs tomorrow, in conjunction with his much-anticipated blog event, imPRESSive. In an exclusive interview with Liam, he reveals exclusively to The Friday Article the details of his live blog event.

Thank you for agreeing to do this Liam, so, your live blog event takes place tomorrow, which you have been counting down to for a while now… Will this go to plan? If I remember correctly, the last time you planned to do a live blog/vlog, there were “technical difficulties” – will that happen again?

I hope not! That was unfortunate to happen, but this time I’m sticking to live blogging, it’s easier!

But before I continue to interview you, we need to know, what is this live blog going to be about?

Right, I’m going to say it now as a surprise, but most of you have probably guessed… But I’m going to see Example LIVE! I’ll be blogging every step of the way (if I can), but of course, I’ll be absent when the actual concert starts!

Wow! So how is it going to work?

Whilst travelling, I’ll update every hour, but probably will post more on my Twitter. I’ll them sort it into one major post which will stay up, so it doesn’t clog up the blog too much.

I see, and finally… imPRESSive is starting tomorrow, are you excited, and what can we expect?

Expect something completely amazing. I’m absolutely excited for this, and the hype has been building for a while now, it’ll be great to see it all come together…

Liam

T.G.I. Thursday!: Volunteering

So today I did a lot of volunteering, and it’s great! I’ve done it in the past, and it’s great to know that you did some good for the community and charities.

But I also forgot to mention that I was recently Volunteer of the month for January by vInspired (an organisation which encourages volunteering). That was such an honour to receive, and I want to take this post to encourage you all to volunteer, it is such a great thing to do.

You can find the interview by clicking here

Happy Thursday!

Liam