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Simple World-Building Advice (that blew my mind!) - Corinne O'Flynn

Ever received a bit of advice from someone that totally clicked and made so much sense that you couldn’t believe you hadn’t ever thought about it yourself or heard it anywhere before? This happened to me just the other day and my writing mind was blown wide open. I had to share!

Forgive me if this is one of those gems that you all have known forever and I’m just having a case of the-last-to-knows. But here it goes. Ready?
Your similes and metaphors should carry two buckets of water. 
OMG, right? Right? 
You’re not rolling your computer eyes at me, are you?
The two-bucket concept urges you, when writing description in your story and comparing it to something in order to make it relatable to the reader and more visceral as an experience, to use things that are already in your setting. 
In my novel, THE EXPATRIATES, the story begins in a carnival, in a fairgrounds on flat ground with gravel and weeds and not much else. When describing a sound, I had likened it to the rustle of leaves. My friend cried foul. “There are no leaves here.” He argued that the simile should carry two buckets of water and use something that would be found in the scene that could describe the sound, thereby building the world while expressing the relatable experience to the reader.  I took his suggestion and replaced the leaves with a fluttering tent flap and hopefully added a tiny bit of my story’s world-related visual and audio that enhances the sensory experience I’m trying to convey to the reader.
Talk about an aha moment for me. So simple, and yet something I have never given an ounce of thought.
Have you ever received writing advice that felt like the skies opened and the gods were shining their light upon you?  I’d love to know what it was. 

images: google images
About the Author Corinne

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  1. That *is* good advice! I’ve been sort of slowly, intuitively groping my way toward the realization that this principle goes a long way toward establishing the tone of the book and the voices of the characters within it. The more I can remember to do this, the more the story’s personality will pop. :)

  2. That is really great advice! I actually wrote a simile like that in my last writing session, but I wasn’t consciously thinking about. Now I’ll make an EFFORT to have my similes and metaphors carry two buckets of water to help build my world :)

  3. That’s great advice, and a technique I learned while writing flash fiction, where every syllable counts!

    My best advice was about plot: that as a writer I have to decide what the climactic point of my story is, and how far from it in time do I want to start telling the story.

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