A revision prompt: Go back through any story you’ve done (or essay or whatever) and highlight every simile or metaphor. Usually our first attempts at these are pat—using the borrowed language dead with, as Shklovsky points out (in the great book for writers “Theory of Prose”), the weight of familiarity. Say you’ve written a clunker like: “We fought like cats and dogs.” Take this simile’s beginning, “We fought like…” and then write five more similes. Usually, sometime around the third or fourth, a writer will find a sharp, original simile or metaphor that another writer (with a different history of experience and experience in language) would not have come up with. It’s a way to distinguish your work from other people’s, and a way to give voice to your unique history with event and language.
Biography of Rob Roberge: Rob Roberge is the author of the upcoming book of stories, Working Backwards from the Worst Moment of My Life (Red Hen, Fall, 2110), and the novels, More Than They Could Chew (Perennial, Dark Alley/Harper Collins, February 2005), and Drive (Hollyridge Press, 2006). He teaches writing in the MFA program in Creative Writing at Antioch University Los Angeles, in the MFA program in Creative Writing at UC-Riverside’s Palm Desert, and in the UCLA Extension Writers’ Program, where he received the Outstanding Instructor Award in Creative Writing in 2003. His stories have been featured in ZYZZYVA, Chelsea, Other Voices, Alaska Quarterly Review, and the “Ten Writers Worth Knowing Issue” of The Literary Review. His work has also been anthologized in Another City (City Lights, 2001), It’s All Good (Manic D Press, 2004) and SANTI: Lives of the Modern Saints (Black Arrow Press, 2007). Newer work is scheduled to appear, or has appeared, in Penthouse, Black Clock, and OC Noir, part of the series that includes San Francisco Noir, LA Noir and Las Vegas Noir. He plays guitar and sings with several LA bands, including, among others, the punk pioneers, The Urinals. In his spare time, he restores and rebuilds vintage amplifiers and quack medical devices. For news and more info, visit & or email at www.robroberge.com or on Facebook.