Creating Colour In Words

February 11, 2017 | By | 2 Replies More

As a reader, I love to be transported into a world of imagination and my favourite modes of transportation are metaphors, similes and idioms.

As a writer, these are also my favourite moments of creativity.

I would much rather read about ‘the bruised sky’ than ‘the purple-grey sky’. Of course, the sky is not literally bruised but the language is beautiful and the image created is far more interesting.

Metaphors, similes and idioms have been around for donkeys’ years (sorry!) and have gifted us the most wonderful figurative language. Plenty of the big names in literature use them to decorate their work and allow us to take pleasure in their writing – Louisa May Alcott, J.M Barrie and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name a few.

Yet, there are those who decry the use of these figurative tools in fiction.

‘Is the sky really bruised?’

‘No, of course not.’

‘Then it’s not correct to say that it is.’

It would be a great loss to the body of literature we have come to enjoy if all creative writing was to remain literal. True, clichéd writing can be cringe-worthy and it is easy to fall into that trap if you write to include similes, metaphors and idioms. No-one wants to read time and again about the tip of the iceberg, being as thick as thieves or having a heart of gold. The writer must come up with new ideas and nuances to portray the same message in an alternative and interesting way.

As a writer who loves to incorporate these tools, I am always on the lookout for new ideas. And they can come from anywhere. The day I saw a man using his leaf-blower to blast fallen autumn leaves from his yard into his neighbour’s, a new metaphor was born:

He was a leaf-blower; a lazy, selfish piece that blew debris from his own backyard into someone else’s.

 On another occasion, while a friend was talking about a celebrity’s daughter being born with a silver spoon in her mouth, I realised this comes in varying degrees. Some are born into a lifetime of comfort while others are delivered into a world of obscene wealth. Hence, another metaphor was born:

Some people aren’t born with a silver spoon in their mouth. They come out sucking a solid platinum soup ladle!

I understand that this kind of writing isn’t everyone’s cup of Bovril (see what I did there?), but I think there is room for us all. In a world where the literal is sometimes so bleak and disheartening, a world of imagination and colourful language can surely only be a good thing.

I look forward to reading many more stories involving bruised skies, faces like pre-loved handbags, and worlds with holes shaped like lost loved ones.


Find out more about Toni on her website

Follow her on Twitter @tonijenkinsauth



Category: Contemporary Women Writers, How To and Tips

Comments (2)

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  1. Lydia says:

    I couldn’t agree with you more. Metaphors, similes and idioms can breathe so much life into a scene.

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