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Choose comparisons that convey the right emotion and it will come through for readers.This example is one of my all-time favorites because it accomplishes so much.
What else could you use to convey your description accurately to readers?Using this sound to describe someone’s pain is so much more effective than claiming that his heart ached or his chest hurt. (Chime, Franny Billingsley) Here, the author could easily have said that her father was a man prone to awkward silences. This gives life to the father’s typically inanimate moodiness, making it much more active and intentional.To create a description that resonates with readers, experiment with different comparisons. Instead, she used personification to bring those silences to life. With the added personification, this example packs a heavy punch.One of the things that pumps me up the most when I’m reading a book is when the author phrases things in a way I’ve never seen before.It could be a familiar concept or image—red hair, an urban street, fear—but when it’s written differently, I’m able to visualize that thing in a new way, as if I’m seeing it from a new angle.With description, authors tend to focus on certain details.When showing what a character looks like, we give a run down of hair color, body type, and skin tone.Taking the time to explore other word choices can result in a phrase that sounds totally different.And don’t underestimate the impact of making up a completely new word.But in the following example, Choldenko zeroes in on a different part of the body to show what her character is feeling.The result not only conveys the emotion in a new way, it adds a bit of humor, which fits the tone of her piece: Everything that we describe has its fallback cues that we default to when we’re unsure how to explain something.