What Ebenezer Scrooge Can Teach Us about Great Writing by Kristen Lamb

I hadn’t planned to post today, but Kristen Lamb had such a brilliant and beautiful post about A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens that I wanted to reblog it. Here’s Kristen:

One of my all-time favorite movies for the holidays is The Muppets Christmas CarolI believe I’ve seen this movie a few hundred times. I’ve worn out three VHS tapes and at least three DVDs. I play the movie over and over, mainly because, well, duh,  MUPPETS! But, Muppets aside, also I can’t get enough of the music. Also, I love the story of A Christmas Carol no matter how many times I see it, no matter how many renditions, and I am certainly not alone. Charles Dicken’s story of a redeemed miser is a staple for holiday celebrations around the world and across the generations.

This story is virtually synonymous with “Christmas,” but why is it such a powerful story? Why has it spoken so deeply to so many? Why is it a story that never grows old? Today, I want to talk about a couple of the elements that speak to me, because they are at the heart of great writing.

Click HERE to read more. It really is a fabulous post!

Word Game: Similes

Pic from baldworm.blogspot.com

A few weeks ago, I blogged about an alphabet game I found in a book published in 1940 called The Fun Encyclopedia. My father passed this book to me, and with it another book (which my grandfather originally owned) called The Complete Book of Games by Clement Wood and Gloria Goddard, which also came out a whopping 72 years ago.

The red binding is cracked, the pages are a yellowish-tan, and some of the games are outdated (for instance, one about sending telegrams). However, there are still some gems in this treasured gift.

Here’s another Amaze-ing Words Wednesday treat! A word game based on similes. In fact, this is the party game played in The Christmas Carol (1984) by guests at the party hosted by Ebenezer Scrooge’s nephew. (In fact, the one simile I found in Dickens’s original novella was the sentence “Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail.”)

So the rules are simply this. A simile is presented. (Random House Dictionary defines a simile as “a figure of speech in which two unlike things are explicitly compared.” The two unrelated things are connected by the words “as,” “like,” or “than.”) The adjective is stated, but you must fill in the comparative noun, and the word “as” is always used. An example (which you should all know if you listened to Foreigner):  Cold as _____. [ice]

Now let’s see how you do with the following similes from The Complete Book of Games (1940):

  1. Black as ____________.
    Pic from myteachingspirit.blogspot.com
  2. Blind as a ___________.
  3. Busy as a ___________.
  4. Clean as a __________.
  5. Clear as  ___________.
  6. Dry as a ___________.
  7. Fit as a ____________.
  8. Flat as a ___________.
  9. Good as ___________.
  10. Light as a __________.
  11. Mad as a __________.
  12. Neat as a __________.
  13. Pretty as a _________.
  14. Quick as __________.
  15. Sharp as a _________.
  16. Slow as  __________.
  17. Stiff as a __________.
  18. Thick as __________.
  19. Ugly as ___________.
  20. White as __________.

Answers (some have several options):

  1. Black as coal/night/pitch/sin.
    Pic from buzzingwithmsb.blogspot.com
  2. Blind as a bat.
  3. Busy as a bee.
  4. Clean as a whistle.
  5. Clear as a bell/crystal/daylight.
  6. Dry as a bone.
  7. Fit as a fiddle.
  8. Flat as a pancake.
  9. Good as gold.
  10. Light as a feather.
  11. Mad as a hatter/March hare.
  12. Neat as a pin.
  13. Pretty as a picture.
  14. Quick as lightning/a wink.
  15. Sharp as a razor (not mentioned in the book, but I’ve also heard “sharp as a tack.”)
  16. Slow as a tortoise/molasses in January (I would have said “turtle“; surely that counts.)
  17. Stiff as a board/poker.
  18. Thick as molasses/thieves.
  19. Ugly as sin.
  20. White as snow.

There were many more similes provided in the book. Indeed, some are outdated. For instance, has anyone ever heard the following?

  • Full as a tick.
  • Mean as gar broth.
  • Plain as a pikestaff.
  • Stupid as an ostrich.
  • Safe as the Bank of England.

I hadn’t.

Similes are wonderful! They help us clarify an adjective by bringing up a visual image of something we can compare it to. There are the ones we have all heard, and the ones authors come up with on their own. It’s a lot of fun as a writer to try to come up with a simile that expresses a situation or a character’s emotion.

What are your favorite similes? How did you do on the quiz? Do you enjoy creative similes in fiction?