Titled “A Young Boy Fishes for Dinner,” it makes use of a dizzying number of action verbs to propel the story forward ( in bold face below), and similes that made me smile ( in italics) with their inventiveness.
Similes compare two unlike things, often using “like” or “as.” A while ago I held a contest on writing them. Below, notice how Wells dispensed with either “like” or “as” in the first simile.
I won’t paste the whole story in here, but I sure loved the way it began:
“First we’ll get the grill going hotter than a blacksmith’s forge. We’ll strip the papery wrappers from the tomatillos and lay them above the coals alongside planks of onion and a chili pepper, maybe two. I’ll flip the vegetables as they sear, and as usual, the tongs won’t be long enough to keep my hands from scorching like bare feet on the beach parking lot. The onions will char, then the peppers. The tomatillos will fight the heat, blistering in anger and spitting juice at the hissing coals, then they’ll give up and collapse in on themselves. They go back indoors, into the blender.
“Quickly, before the coals dim, I’ll chop the peppers and onions and a bunch of cilantro. Stir it all together, and there’s a salsa. Now to cook the fish. It’s a bluefish, an entire side, big enough to feed the whole family and some stray friends. Onto the grill it goes, skin up. We’ll close the lid so the smoke insinuates itself into the oily fillet. Turn it once. My sons will hover like thirsty mosquitoes. Now it will be time to spoon grilled salsa verde over our dinner, the freshest bluefish we’ve ever eaten and the first one landed by Dexter, our proud 6-year-old.”
Now, take a look at a 200-word sample of your own work. Let’s do a little math here. Wells employed more than 20 action verbs, over one every 10 words. And three similes.
How does your writing compare? Is it heavier on the adjectives? I see just a few here, including papery, oily, stray, freshest.
If you’ve got a great example of your own power writing, lay a little sample on me. If not, simply admire a how a pro crafts a first person piece.