Make sure your comparisons are strong, valuable additions that motivate readers through your story
When I returned a borrowed novel to a co-worker, she asked why there were so many sticky notes jumping off the pages. I explained that I wouldn’t write in her book, but felt compelled to tag some of the worst similes I’d read in years.
At a pivotal point in the book’s plot, a major character was haunted by thoughts of an abortion she had as a young woman. The book read:
The memory of her abortion swam in her head like a fat trout.
The comparison was so poor, so disjointed from the book’s storyline, so … well, the simile was like a fish out of water.
Couldn’t the woman have had a storm of dastardly thoughts or even a flood of horrid memories? That I could have glossed over. Why the trout? They’re not especially ominous, are they?
I let the poor comparison swim out of my stream of consciousness, but the thought resurfaced last month. In our local daily, a sports reporter tried to explain the aggressive defense of a visiting basketball team this way: