Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-aftersShe is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: www.karenwitemeyer.com.   

There are many craft techniques that go into the art of writing in deep POV. One of my favorite, however, is one that doesn't get much press—writing fresh comparisons.
When an author writes in deep POV, the narrative is no longer in her voice but in the voice of the POV character. So it only makes sense that when a comparison is used for descriptive flair, it should relate to something that would naturally occur to the POV character, something unique to his personality and background. 
If your hero is a western cowboy, the comparisons that mean something to him will be far different from those of a British nobleman. Similes, metaphors, analogies—all can be given a fresh spin that enhance your character's voice.
This takes work and creativity. Clichés are nearly always the first comparisons to come to mind when we write. Don't accept that lazy road. Work to make your analogies unique to your POV character. In doing so, you will deepen the POV and create memorable moments for your reader.
I've chosen some examples from my latest release, Short-Straw Bride, to demonstrate. Note the differences between the hero and heroine's choice of comparisons. They both draw from their personal knowledge, Travis from his ranching background and Meredith from her more feminine perspective. 
The curves she sported now were definitely new, but the determination and bravery he remembered clung to her bearing like a grass burr to a pant leg. 
All through dinner, Everett Hayes's demand hung over the Archer table like a boulder perched on an eroding precipice.
Meredith's words came back to him, flaying his defenses like a skinning knife cutting away a hide.
His wet trousers made the going slower than he would have liked, though, clinging to him like a bunch of woolen leeches.
Hiram's face scrunched up like a pumpkin that had started to rot.
Guilt pricked at Meredith like a row of sewing pins protruding through her corset seam.
An odd gesture for a man who wore authority like a well broken in hat.
Then he laced his fingers through hers and tugged her into his side in a motion so natural, it felt like a well-rehearsed dance instead of a spontaneous improvisation.
The way you craft your comparisons flavors the narrative in a way that will help your reader more deeply relate to your characters and keep your author voice from intruding. It will give your writing a freshness that will make it stand out from the crowd.
In my current work in progress, I have three POV characters: the hero, the heroine, and the heroine's father. In one scene, the heroine is racing on horseback to reach her father who is out with the cattle. We are in the father's POV, and as he notes her racing in, he makes a comparison.
Now, as I wrote this scene, the first comparison that came to mind was that she rode as if a pack of wild dogs were on her tail. This, of course, is a cliché. I searched and searched for a better simile. I came up blank. Finally, I dug deeper into who my POV character was. He is an ex-outlaw who's eluded the law for two decades. He's gone straight, but that outlaw blood still runs through his veins. As I pondered this character trait, the perfect comparison finally came to mind.
He twisted his neck to the side to work out a kink, and caught sight of his daughter riding down upon them as if a hangin' posse were in pursuit.
Not only does this analogy capture the POV character's personality, but it deepens the POV because that isn't something I as the author would say in narration. But it is exactly what an ex-outlaw would use as a descriptor were he relating the story.
You can practice this on your own. Take a clichéd comparison and rework it with your own character in mind. Here are some to choose from:
Light as a feather
Strong as an ox
Melted like butter
Stubborn as a mule
Leave a comment with a short descriptor of your character and your reworked cliché. The one I like best will win a copy of Short-Straw Bride.
I can't wait to see what you come up with! 

Blog: http://petticoatsandpistols.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/karen.witemeyer



  1. No need to enter me, as I've already had the privilege of reading and reviewing Short-Straw Bride (and I'm a contributor to "The Borrowed Book" anyway...)! :) But I must say that this is a great post, and Short-Straw Bride is a GREAT book!

    Here is a comparison from my current WIP (historical romance set in the American West in the 1880s):

    Joe (a man who grew up on a ranch in a Nevada canyon): "It must have been something important to you if it put a smile the size of the Nevada desert across yer face.” His voice dropped as he added gently, “You have a real nice smile, Sally.”

    Thanks again for this post, Karen (and Sandra)! This definitely has given me some things to think about as I write... :)


  2. Hi, Amber. Great way to tie in to the hero's heritage. I like it!

  3. Thanks for the great post, Karen!

  4. Hi, Karen. Great information above. I enjoy writing just for the fun of it and it's a great way to wind down after a day at work. I actually did my first MS about six years ago, but because of some of the things I've learned, such as your post above, I'm in the process of re-working it, trying to make it better. So here's a small piece from it.

    The story takes place in the 1880's during a cattle drive. My hero (the trail boss) hires on a young boy, only to find out that the boy is actually a woman, and changes his mind. This is the result:

    The girl stepped directly in front of Brett, and even though she was a lot smaller than he, stood toe-to-toe with him. Anger flashed from her light brown eyes like an amber bolt of lightning, and the Trail Boss knew he was in for a tongue lashing that would probably peel the hide from a steer.

    Thanks for the post Karen. Very informative. :)

  5. Ooops, forgot to put my e-mail address.


  6. Hi Karen, Hi Sandra. :)

    My WIP is a historical romance set in 1881. The main character, Lydia arrived as mail order bride and her new husband, Beau has not long taken her to town to buy some new clothes...

    Her thoughts rushed on, sliding like scissors through a bolt of silk.

    Or, for a true cliche I reworked the other day...

    Lydia sighed with a grim smile. And pigs might take up knitting. Judging by the state of the clothes she’d laundered, they were more likely to mend themselves. But still, she could dream.

    dingo4mum (at) clubtelco dot com



  7. Hi, Angi. I like the amber lightning bolt. That's fresher than the usual sparks flying from the heroine's eyes. Good job!

  8. Lucy - I LOVE the scissors through silk analogy. So perfect for an 1880's heroine. And the knitting pigs made me smile. Keep up the good work!

  9. OK - I've chosen my winner. Congratulations to Lucy for her great comparison:

    Her thoughts rushed on, sliding like scissors through a bolt of silk.

    I'll be in contact with you, Lucy. Great job!

  10. How exciting! Thanks Karen :)
    Lots of creative people here with clever comparisons.


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