A Writing Lesson: All the Light We Cannot See – Using Metaphors Well

In an earlier post, I shared with you some great examples of similes from Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel. (ICYMI, you can find the post here.) follow link Why am I talking about Doerr’s use of figurative language?

  • Because the man writes mind-blowing phrases—he won a Pulitzer, for heaven’s sake
  • Because figurative language is hard to do well
  • Because when done well, figurative language helps your reader connect to your book and REMEMBER your book.

Because we already discussed similes, follow url today we’re focusing on a few examples of his metaphors. (more…)

A Writing Lesson: All the Light We Cannot See – Using Similes Well

As writers (and editors helping writers), we’re always looking for new ways to say things that have been said before. When we use words and phrasing to create images, we’re using figurative language, and in the figurative language realm are metaphors, similes, and personification. It’s not too awful hard to come up with examples of these and to use them in our writing. However, to use them well, click to create an image that feels new and exciting to the reader, that, my friends, is something.

I tried desperately hard to read All the Light We Cannot See: A Novel by Anthony Doerr. It won the Pulitzer Prize, and it has over 250,000 five-star reviews on Goodreads. Good grief. I should have devoured this book, right? Well … I didn’t. I tried twice to sink my teeth in and get through it, and I couldn’t do it. I may go back to it because I didn’t dislike it, but it also didn’t captivate me.

What did captivate me, though? Doerr’s writing. Oh. My. Gosh. The man can turn a phrase.

So even though I didn’t LOVE his book, I did love his writing. Because of this, I thought I would share with you some examples of his beautifully crafted figurative language. (more…)

To Oxford or Not to Oxford, the Comma Is the Question

If I had to name the single-most hated grammar rule I’ve encountered with my clients, it’s the Oxford (serial) comma. Oh my, the number of times I’ve been told “I hate that comma!” is staggering. And now that little ink spot could be worth millions to some laborers (details at the end of this entry).

If you need a quick refresher, the Oxford comma is the one that comes before the conjunction in a series of items. For example: “I want to visit Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and New York on my next trip.” The comma after “Vermont” and before “and” is the Oxford comma.

You might read that sentence and think, “I don’t need that comma. It makes sense without it.” Yes, you’re right. That one does.

But what about this one: The dress comes in blue and white, black and red, and orange and brown.

If you removed the comma after “red,” would the sentence be as clear? Would you know for sure what colors the dress comes in? Does it come in six different colors, all solid? Does it come in one pattern–blue and white–and four solids? Does it come in two patterns, one that’s blue and white and one that’s a combination of the last four?


Writing + Reading = Better Writing

When I get a new client who comes to me and tells me that this is their first book, I’m always curious as to the amount of work it’s going to need. Sometimes we have to start at the very beginning and work on their plot structure, their character and conflict development, and their dialogue, if they’re writing fiction; if they’re writing nonfiction, sometimes we start with the organization and the development of their ideas and lessons they’re trying to teach.

Once in a while, I’m amazed by how well a first book is done. Sometimes they don’t need that developmental help because it’s such a strong draft; we can move right to line editing, to polishing the words themselves and how they’re put together.

What makes the difference between the draft that needs a lot of help with the big picture and the one that doesn’t? I think it’s a mix of different things, but I think it often comes down to how much the author has studied the writing process itself as well as how much they’ve read. Whether you’re taking a class (or two or three) or you’re part of a writing group, or you’re simply reading, reading, reading to try to learn how others write successfully, you have to continue to learn and grow. (more…)