Then I learned the importance of such language being organic. A metaphor has to grow out of the character’s frame of reference. A carpenter can say something insightful about nails and wood, but can’t convincingly wax poetic about making soup–unless you have built in the fact that he likes to cook. In other words, a character needs to own the simile or metaphor. It needs to spring from his or her personality.
If a piece of language is not organic to the character (or the narrator), it’ll sound false. So take it out. If you really love the way it sounds, save that phrase to use in another piece or use it about another character.
Here’s today’s challenge. Pick one of your characters, preferably a minor one. This is a great way to flesh out one of those still-wooden bit players. What is this person’s occupation or major hobby?
Now, come up with five similes or metaphors that relate to that profession or interest. Here’s an example. A cook could think the fog is as dense as fruitcake. Or the hand-holding teens in the coffeeshop are way too sweet. Pleasing one’s father with a birthday gift might be as satisfying as getting a souffle to the table at the right moment. You get the idea.
Once you have your five organic sentences, see if you can find a way to use them when that character appears on the page. If not, keep them in reserve. You at least now know more about how that character views the world.