like, you know, sucky language blows… as if!
The more I write the more I spot the common mistakes I make in my writing. Oh yes, there are the larger issues relating to plot, characters, etc., but in this case I’m referring to the nuts and bolts of the language: word choice, sentence construction, and grammar.
There was a time when I abused that in an extraordinary fashion.
Recently, I’ve become sensitised to my overuse of the word like and as if. I’ve tackled my as if fetish in recent months, but in my past story I splashed like around as if it were cheap perfume.
In the last pass of my last story I went so far as to do a search for like and eradicate it as much as possible. Not completely, but just so the fecker wasn’t appearing on every other page. As usual, forcing myself to re-write specific sentences resulted in stronger and more effective prose.
My writing tends towards the lazy in its first draft. Let’s be honest, the sentences are snoozing in hammocks. As the rewrites progress they are kicked out of bed, forced to run laps, and survive a tough obstacle course. Entire lines disappear. Clauses vanish. Some words never recover.
Yet, even in later drafts, I’m amazed at how many of the shiftless layabouts avoid detection. Usually, it’s because they maintain a clever pretence at work. In reality they have a joint behind their back, a better book tucked inside their jacket pocket, or are surfing the Internet whenever I’m on another page. The cheek!
While considering my use of like and as if I stumbled upon Similepedia, which is a fantastic resource. Anyone can add his/her favourite use of simile from an author. When used correctly the simile is a marvellous tool.
Like all tools it can also be used to bludgeon the reader into a coma.
In the future I hope to minimise damage by blunt simile to my readers.
John of Dublin
Good article, and I agree. Thanks for the link to Similepedia – I’ve added it to my Favs!