Challenge day 14

With today’s read I realize that some of this will need to be bit off in small doses. As I’ve confessed before I never made it past high school English. I also confessed that I was the teacher’s pet my senior year. If you are capable of reading between those lines I hope you understand that to be 11th grade. I think I squeaked a C out of that 11th grade English class.

Todays read pages 173-180, section 6 of the chapter On Writing.

“Description is what makes the reader a sensory participant in the story.” It’s important to remember that it’s not only ‘how to’ describe but of ‘how much to’. One can only learn by doing. Reading helps this skill.

Begin with a visualization. End by translation what you see to the page. The trick is finding the happy medium. It’s also important to know what to describe. Remember the writer’s main job is telling the story.

Description begins with the writer’s imagination and finishes with the reader’s.

A writer needs to be able to open all of his senses. A writer then needs to remember it’s all about the story.

Stephen then gives us an example of a description that is just enough to help the reader sense the scene to before getting to the story. It was at this point my lack of further English education slowed me down to realize I need only bite off what I can chew. He introduced me to the simile. In other words he mentioned it and I had enough wits to know I needed to stop and find out what one was.

Simile? Thank goodness for google. A simile is a figure of speech comparing two unlike things that is often introduced with like or as. Examples being ‘cheeks like roses’ or ‘expression as cold as ice’.

While reading up on similes I realized that they are similar to metaphors. Oh shit…time (at age 54) I finally found out what one of those is, so I google on. A metaphor is a direct comparison between two seemingly unrelated subjects. For example ‘all the world’s a stage’ or ‘drowning in money’.

Ok so what is the difference in a way this yearning mind can understand?

A simile compares two subjects, compares as to describe. Take ‘cheeks like roses’ which helps me to picture rosey, or pink, cheeks. It doesn’t make me actaullly picture roses in place of cheeks. The cheeks stay cheeks, just pink in color.

A metaphor equates two subjects. The example ‘all the world’s a stage’ helps me see the world’s as a stage. The two are equated and I can see one as the other. Or onto the other ‘drowning in money’ where money isn’t being described, but is equated with drowning in a way I can see the money actually swallowing or overtaking.

There I may not have these two down perfectly, but at least I may now grasp a basic understanding.

5 thoughts on “Challenge day 14

  1. “It’s important to remember that it’s not only ‘how to’ describe but of ‘how much to’.” – IMPORTANT! rambling on and on, using $10 words when $1 words suffice, spelling errors, grammar construction…just some of the reasons I have put down blogs/books and walked away.

      • I’m with AM here. There are people on the right who say William Buckley was a great writer. I read his stuff. All I can say about his writing is (besides being a racist) the words he used were in my Honors English exams, but no one ever uses them in a sentence.

  2. You long ago mastered how to use these, why is it important to learn to name them? On the other hand, you can teach an old dog new tricks, so you write like Hemingway. (Used a metaphor and a simile in the same sentence, didn’t I?) When I first started working in Orlando, I was driving past a community college on my way to and from the office, I turned in one morning and enrolled – first semester Freshman Comp, taught by an ABD (PhD student All But Dissertation – working on the book to finish his degree) creative writing type – he had us demonstrate all of the forms. He cared more about us being able to use them, than name them. I remember him as small, with long black hair, kind of brooding and very bright and encouraging.

    • I think what was important was that I understand what Mr. King, or anyone, means when they use the terms. It was time I grew up enough to admit that I needed to learn and not just act like I fully understood. I’ve found my ego gets in my way unless I keep it in check.

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