Creating descriptions of people

Here’s an exercise we were taught in writing school to help free our minds from the conciseness and blandness used by politically-correct trogologytes with nothing better to do than to force us all to use non-figurative, monosyllabic grunts expressly devised to be comprehensible to a sock puppet.

What you do is think of someone you know well and write ten metaphorical sentences about them. It starts by thinking:

“If my friend were a vehicle, what type of vehicle would he/she be?”

The answer might be something like:

“She is a wheat harvester rearing on its back wheels.”

The idea is taken from a poet, whose name I cannot remember, who used this device to describe English poet laureate, Ted Hughes.

For example, here’s one I made up about a person I know:

His shoulders are two oversized furcoats, draped over a telegraph pole.
His voice, a shotgun ringing through a bowling alley on a Saturday night.
His eyes blink over an early evening at the equator.
He uses his nose like a vacuum cleaner sucks up marbles.

As you can see, you can create a fairly vivid image of a person through the association of ideas. My example is rubbish, but give it a go, it’s not only simple but fun – like throwing a hair dryer in the fish tank.

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