Here’s another example of that first iteration: choosing two terms and swapping the descriptive approaches.
So, for example, this time I described sound as light (peals like light on a ruffled lake; a clean cold sound, warm as a slate grey dawn) and light as sound (light heavy and flat as a muffled bell; gold midday like a swarm of bees). Then I switched to describing foliage as animals (a lean and muscular forest, still and wary; leaves that hissed and slithered over each other) and animals as foliage (a horse’s mane and tail streaming like grass in a river).
The next day I took a different approach.
In this case, I took two items fairly randomly from the left-side observation pages, and used one as a metaphor or simile for the other. As a result, it’s more directed than the first approach, and requires more specific thought, but is just as much fun. The trick here is finding the similarities — what makes a bush turkey like an etched glass, or balloons like cold cocoa?
There are a few that I like for their own sakes:
- Cats glinting & flickering through striations of sunlight, as ever-present and ungraspable as the humming buzz of the powerlines.
- A reclusive neighbour disappearing, like the statue of Mary, into the brilliant autumn overgrowth.
- The embarrassment lingered, interminable as a distant freight train.
But generally, this version has more of a parlour-game feeling to it, and is less about the sound of words than about concepts and observation and argument (all also good things).
And it also emphasises how drawing a comparison from within a world (whether the world of a Brisbane suburban winter, or a more dramatic and fictional place) helps build a sense of the world and how things fit into and push against it.
Similart to the previous one, except this time:
- Make a list of things you’ve seen recently.
- Pick two at random.
- For writers: Describe Thing 1 as being obviously like Thing 2 — at length.
- For artists: Draw Thing 1 by calling on all its similarities to Thing 2 — you can distort the image, if necessary, but finding subtle parallels and forcing them into prominence is particularly effective (here are some fast sketches of household items as people).