Hyperbole in Description Piques Interest As High As Pike’s Peak

image by isabellaquintana
image by isabellaquintana

Definition of Hyperbole

Combining my research: Figurative language technique with visual impact that deliberately uses an extreme, fanciful, humorous, or ridiculous exaggeration (possibly applies a simile or metaphor) that makes a point about a real circumstance.

Common Examples of Hyperbole

  • Grandma is as old as Methuselah.
  • I’m dying to go.
  • I’ve told you a million times I don’t like mushrooms.
  • That’s the biggest cake of all time.
  • The cleanup took forever.
  • I’m so hungry I could eat a horse.

Fresh and Humorous Hyperbole

image by pgbsimon
image by pgbsimon

“I’d bungled everything. The planet didn’t produce enough Grecian Formula to stop this church youth director from turning prematurely gray. If I begged, would the senior pastor assign me to an easier job? Maybe I could singlehandedly build the new Family Life Center.”

  1. “At my wits end” wouldn’t produce a mind picture. The hyperbole describing the youth director at risk of prematurely turning gray does.
  2. The second use of hyperbole in which he wishes he could exchange his position for the job of constructing the Family Life Center, provides images of the young man alone, riveting steel, laying bricks, and putting up drywall.
  3. Through hyperbole, the youth director shows and makes the point that his job is extremely stressful and difficult.

Spend Time to Develop Hyperbole

image by Unsplash
image by Unsplash

“Maybe it was time to visit the unemployment office. What would I say when asked for my qualifications? I could share that, behind my back, the senior churchwomen, affectionately called me the youth director from Mars. I’d heard the Granny Girls had considered Venus, but that planet was too close. They’d awarded me the Mars moniker after I forgot to power up Miss Lily’s windows before unleashing the teens to hose down her Lincoln Town Car at the annual car wash. If that qualification failed to beguile an unemployment rep, maybe the Saturday night lock-in I’d arranged in the gym would. Cleverly, I’d planned the night to redeem myself after my car wash debacle. I stationed adult volunteers at the doors from the basement to the attic fan. Then at four in the morning, the senior pastor called. The police had arrested three of our teens wading in the town’s fountain, singing “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.” Who knew I’d need to enlist a hundred watchdogs to guard the windows. I counted my blessings, though. The Granny Girls hadn’t upped my home planet to Pluto.”

image by KERBSTONE
image by KERBSTONE

Examples of Hyperbole:

  • Time to visit the unemployment office.
  • Youth director from Mars.
  • Unleashing the teens
  • From the basement to the attic fan.
  • Enlist a hundred watchdogs.
  • Upped my home planet to Pluto.

Try adding hyperbole to give story description a fun facelift. Click to tweet.

How have you used hyperbole in your writing?

5 Easy Techniques to Bulk Up a Paper-Thin Character

“[An] error of inexperienced writers—or journalists in a hurry—is to confine characterization to the obvious physical attributes.” —Sol Stein

image by OpenClipartVectors
image by OpenClipartVectors

Let’s build a character. I based the 5 easy techniques on Sol Stein’s suggestions in Stein on Writing.

Let’s say we want to introduce the father of our heroine. Telling readers he’s an angry brute gives him a description that’s as flat as the paper we write on.

The Scene. In a diner, the heroine sits beside the hero in a booth facing the door. The heroine’s father enters the diner, intending to drag his twenty-year-old daughter home.

image by skeeze
image by skeeze

Building Block 1: Describe the character through his actions and dialogue.

Dad burst through the diner door like an avalanche.

Building Block 2: Employ Exaggeration

Dad burst through the diner door like an avalanche carrying along a mountain of boulders.

 

angry-774029_1280Building Block 3: Compare the character to a known quality or quantity.

Dad burst through the diner door like an avalanche carrying along a mountain of boulders. His red Angry Bird face whipped left and right until he located us in the last booth.

 

Building Block 4: Characterize the character with a word or phrase— instead of excess details.

UntitledDad burst through the diner door like an avalanche carrying along a mountain of boulders. His red Angry Bird face whipped left and right until he located us in the last booth. I grabbed Andy’s hand beneath the table, as Dad, the wart that no cutting, freezing, or caustic liquid could remove from my existence, barreled toward us.

Building Block 5: Give the character physical or psychological behavior that offers a sense of personality.

image by ClkeFreeVectorImages
image by ClkeFreeVectorImages

Dad burst through the diner door like an avalanche carrying along a mountain of boulders. His red Angry Bird face whipped left and right until he located us in the last booth. I grabbed Andy’s hand beneath the table, as Dad, the wart that no cutting, freezing, or caustic liquid could remove from my existence, barreled toward us. He drew on his habitual sneer, displaying his left-side teeth from his canine to his first molar—the sneer whose purpose I always thought was to let out steam.

 

Hopefully, we brought the angry brute to life.

Replace flat character descriptions with these life-building techniques. Click to tweet.

How would you use one of these suggestions to characterize an ex-boyfriend who shows up?