“…Pip was left behind on the sea, like a hurried traveller’s trunk.” – Moby-Dick, Melville, Chapter 93.
Here is some creative genius’s wool felt circle loom. This, apparently, was for her Melville class (which is the Major Author course I am taking right now!).
We all know what a simile is, right? A phrase that uses one term to describe someone/something by comparing it to someone/something that is similar. We all know the signal phrases “like” and “as.” As wise as an owl. Love is like a rose. The problem with using similes, however, is to write one without being cliche. Being cliche is a real problem writers face. It is difficult to write without them, and to write them well enough to not come off as an ass, as one of my professors mentioned in class.
Anyway, the quote above is the single greatest simile ever written. I have yet to find a more beautiful image in literature. Pip jumped the Pequod again, but the crew left him this time. They left him behind, like a hurried traveller’s trunk. This speaks for the manner in which they left him, of course, but speaks of his worth. Melville, no matter how hard he is to read, is a King among the court; a master of language and social commentary.
My challenge to you is simple: write some similes! The real challenge is to rewrite any of your cliches! “Hot as hell” becomes “hot as dog poo sizzling on the sidewalk in the middle of July.” Be creative! When I am within reach of my notebook for Advanced Creative-Nonfiction, I will edit in some of my rewrites for class. Have fun!