Six Similes About Writing

Writing is like:

  • architecture.  Form follows function; the design of the piece, especially the basic structure, should require every element to contribute to the overall mission of the creation’s existence.  A solid foundation must be established first–in writing, the introduction is critical.  An outline of major topics and examples is like the layout of various beams and girders in construction.
  • sculpture.  Michelangelo said that he saw his sculptures inside the marble blocks, and simply chiseled off anything that wasn’t part of it.  We should do the same with our drafts.
  • bees.  Every drone exists to serve the queen.  Likewise, every line of an essay exists to support the thesis.  Any line–or bee–which doesn’t do this job is just wasting space and getting in the way.
  • Jeet Kun Do: Bruce Lee’s own fighting system, based on reducing forms to the simplest elements; as Lee said, “Hack away the unessentials!”  Similarly, we should focus on the goals of our writing and pursue them without distraction.
  • music.  Various tools must be used in conjunction with each other to produce a pleasing composition.  In music, these tools are things like harmony, tempo, rhythm, and tone.  In writing, we use things like plot, theme…rhythm, and tone.  Actually, many of the terms are interchangeable.  This can teach us a lot about both disciplines.
  • sketching.  Both arts are meant to create an instructive and edifying illusion of reality.  Each involves representing life by using shading and contrast to throw light on certain things.

And, of course, editing is like natural selection.