"The Sidewinder Public Library was a small, retiring building one block down from the town's business area. It was a modest, vine-covered building, and the wide concrete walk up to the door was lined with the corpses of last summer's flowers." -Stephen King The Shining
As a writer and editor I frequently write the same things in margin notes in both my work and in others' work. The usual, "show don't tell," "cut out unnecessary words," and "repeat information," of course show up. There's another I seem to bring up a lot, though. I frequently say, "use metaphors that fit the theme."
What does this mean? It means making an intentional choice in your metaphors. That umbrella your character is carrying may be the color of sunshine, but perhaps mustard fits your story better? Or maybe it's the same color as the dehydrated chicken he is going to eat when he gets on that spaceship? Get the idea?
Metaphors are more than just descriptors, but should be used to further develop your story. To create an atmosphere, foreshadowing, or develop character.
The Stephen King quote above is from relatively early on in the novel, but it's a perfect example of this. At this point in the novel things aren't creepy yet, the hedges are still dormant, no one is chasing anyone through an empty hotel yet. But he describes the flowers not as "dried" but as "corpses." That's a pretty specific and intentional word.
This is a writing technique that comes out in those dreaded rewrites and edits, and it's importance is all too often overlooked in my opinion, so I wanted to share it and discuss other examples with you.
Now, this is where I need you. I want to write more of these little tips and tidbits with examples from books I read and love, so give me some questions. What do you struggle with in your writing? What do you want to know?