Analogy helps readers experience your story
What does an epilepsy seizure taste like?
That’s the question Paul Harding answers in this passage of his Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, Tinkers:
Take a tip from Harding and bring readers to their senses: Use description and analogy to show readers what your subject looks like, smells like, tastes like, feels like or sounds like.
Here’s how …
Sound it out
Sound is one of our most primitive senses, writes Stephan Rechtshaffen, M.D., in Time Shifting. Use it to reach readers’ emotions more than their thoughts.
Harding does that in Tinkers, this time using onomatopoeia and analogy to describe what a coming seizure sounds like:
On the scent
Scent is the sense of memory, nostalgia and emotion. It’s more closely aligned with our feelings than our intellect, Rechtshaffen writes.
In Tinkers, Harding uses analogy to give us a whiff of something putrid as Howard performs a good deed for a hermit:
In another passage, Harding uses scent to show Howard working at a new job:
Get a feel for it
With description, you can make your readers’ skin itch and head throb. In Innocent, Scott Turow uses analogy to show how a hot day feels:
See here now
We say “I see,” to mean “I understand.” How can you help your readers see — and believe — your story?
In Tinkers, Harding uses analogy to show us an old man’s room as he lies dying:
In Tinkers, Harding brings banker Edward Billings to life with this image:
In Innocent, Turow uses metaphor and simile to paint this picture of defense attorney Sandy Stern:
In The Imperfectionists, Tom Rachman uses description and analogy to help us see news editor Craig Menzies:
And in The Imperfectionists, Rachman also uses description and analogy to show us where much of the action takes place:
How can you use analogy to help your audience members “see” your subject?
Model these masters: Report with all your senses.