Friday, July 2, 2010

fiction flaws A: cloud without gravy

In seeking to improve your fiction writing, it's helpful to watch for common fiction flaws and learn how to fix them. Here's the first in a series of blogs on this topic.

Fiction flaw 1. Mixed metaphors, e.g. HER LOVE WAS A CLOUD WITHOUT GRAVY, A SONG WITHOUT SUSPENDERS. HE WISHED HE COULD BOWL HER OFF THE COMPUTER SCREEN OF HIS LIFE. This example contains three metaphors [implied comparisons]. Her love is compared to a cloud. Her love is also compared to a song. His life is compared to a computer screen. Trouble is, the author expanded the metaphors by introducing ideas that don't fit. Clouds don't provide gravy. A song doesn't have suspenders. A person doesn't bowl things off a computer screen. All three are mixed metaphors. How could the example be rewritten using metaphors expanded in a more logical way? Ideas?

Fiction flaw 2. Missing information, e.g. SHE WANDERED ALONG THE ALLEY SEARCHING FOR HER RED CHEVROLET. SHE LOOKED IN DRIVEWAYS AND BEHIND HEDGES, AND PEERED INTO GARAGES. AS SHE BRUSHED A COBWEB OFF THE CHEVY'S DUSTY WINDSHIELD, SOMEONE CALLED HER NAME. There's a disconnect between the second and third sentences of this example. The reader needs to know that she found the car before seeing her brush off the cobweb. How could the missing information be inserted? Ideas?

Fiction flaw 3. Lack of conflict, e.g. CAT SAT ON A MAT. DOG SAID, "I WANT TO SIT BESIDE YOU." "OK," CAT SAID AND MOVED OVER. This example has some elements of a story. It has action, characters, and dialogue. However, it's just an incident, not a story, because there's no conflict. How could the author use conflict to turn it into a story? Ideas?

1 comment:

  1. Mixed metaphors also show up in poetry.
    One concept per poem is sufficient, as in Violet's comparison of her father's improvisation in his shop as though he were a jazz musician.

    Like your example of the cloud, the comparison must ring true.