There are some turns of phrases that, irregardless of where they are used or how, have this irrevocable power to shatter a scene. I figure most of these are different for most people, that each reader has a different set of triggers that makes them step back and roll their eyes instead of falling a little deeper into the scene like metaphors are supposed to do. Here are a few of mine.
Supple Leather: You see this one thrown around all the time and it bothers me. Leather and supple go together, you can basically assume most leather is supple. Only describe the quality of leather if there’s a reason the leather wouldn’t be supple. Because, yes, sometimes leather can be hard, but we’re not usually talking about leather that is worn in that case, because it chafes. Saddles? Saddles are made out of hard leather. The other time you may describe leather is if you’re writing porn or an erotically charged scene. Then you’re trying to invoke a sensualist aspect and supple leather becomes appropriately charged. Otherwise, if you’re just describing leather, don’t use supple. Get more creative. Use your writing powers for good or at least interesting.
Ribbons of Silk: Unless we’re talking about ribbons in your hair, just don’t. Just. Don’t. As a metaphor, this one just feels silly. Literal ribbons of silk? Plus one. Metaphorical ribbons of silk? Have you ever actually played with silk ribbons? They’re not as smooth and soft as you seem to think. Actually, I feel that way about most silk. I think people get silk and satin mixed up all the time because we associate both with luxury. Now, there are a lot of different types of silk (it’s a very versatile fabric), but mostly silk is smooth without being slick. It has a lot more texture, or at least it can. Still soft, still lovely, but seriously, now that I think about it, actual silk is highly diverse in texture, thickness, and softness. And yet, so many people just slap silk around as a metaphor that the word is meaningless. Seriously, can we go with satin instead? Satin was originally a specific form of silk, so maybe that’s where the confusion and ‘soft as silk’ metaphors come out of. So, writers, use satin when you want to talk about something soft and smooth.
So apparently, this blog has become a digression on making texture metaphors more diverse or specific. I guess the take away is, avoid cliches.
What are some of the metaphors that break scene for you?