Looking at Onomatopoeia and Metaphor, Simile, Collective Nouns, and my Delusional Dictionary. For definitions of those, click here to read the introductory post to the series.
This week’s words: Bleat, Big, Band, Book.
Sheep bleat, but the word can also be used to describe moaning, with some synonyms as: moan, mutter, murmur, whine, whinge, protest and complain. So, if you’re going to use the term in its onomatopoeic sense, it should reflect the sound of an unhappy sheep, and conjure that picture in the mind of the reader. To use it in its metaphorical sense is generally to be pejorative.
‘Out on the bleak moor, the sheep could be heard bleating as the icy north wind cut cruelly through their coats of wool.’ Onomatopoeia.
‘David was forever bleating about the injustice of the political system, but never did anything to change it.’ Metaphorical.
Big is a word with many meanings, including great, large, important, and difficult. The tendency is to use the word only to describe physical size. At present, I’m working on a novelette introducing one of the characters in my adult epic fantasy. He’s tackling a huge beast, and it would be too easy to describe it as being ‘as big as an elephant’. That cliché gives no real sense of the threat of the creature. When using similes, it’s often better to find something unexpected with which to compare the subject you wish to describe, or to use exaggeration. Perhaps a monster could be ‘as big as a High Priest’s ego’ (unexpected) (readers of the fantasy trilogy will understand this reference), or ‘as big as Jupiter’ (exaggeration). In fact, in my story, I use different techniques to convey the size of the beast and its threat. But you’ll have to read the story to discover that!
And similes to avoid because they’re clichés?
as big as a bus, as big as an elephant
Collective Nouns: We talk about a band of gorillas. But there are other bands, too:
A band of coyotes, jays, men, musicians – I find it amusing that both gorillas and men are covered by the same collective noun.
Delusional Dictionary: Book: a collection of random words presented as a complete work, without necessarily meaning anything; part of a story sold to the unsuspecting as the whole thing; an object promoting abject fear in those who decry learning and truth; a work of creative genius diminished by publishing accountants who describe it as a product, like a can of beans.
For those learning English as a language, there’s a useful guide to pronunciation here, and Facebook hosts a great group you can join here.
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