A World’s Worth of Hyperbole!!!

If you’ve spent much time reading my blog, you’ll remember the guest blogs my good friend, old college classmate, and my esteemed co-author (of Write to Be Heard, a YA fiction writing book available on Amazon)  Diane Sherlock did for me some time ago.

Well she’s back with another outstanding entry. She’s got a keen eye for writing, and finding the perfect complimentary photos. Be sure to stop by her blog and buy her books (and mine!) on Amazon!

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Hyperboloe all over her face!

Want to stand out with your writing? Or in general? Remove hyperbole from your writing and, for that matter, your speech. Have you noticed that people now seem to be incapable of speaking without it? We’ve become gushers of adjectives, adverbs, and expletives. A touch of hyperbole can strengthen a scene, but if it’s not there for a specific purpose, cut it. If you read the scene aloud and it calls attention to itself, cut it.

The bow ... too much?

Less is more in these days of overstatement. “I was so *@$%$& exhausted.” You go beyond exhaustion, you’re probably dead. “No, really, I nearly died from exhaustion.” Did you just finish the Ironman? Then okay. But thanks to advertising, politics, and the entertainment industry, it’s become our standard way of speaking. No one is wrong, they’re diabolically evil. They can’t have a different opinion, they’re horrendously stupid. Along with it, mercy, the benefit of the doubt, even common ground have disappeared (and in this climate, you want to stop bullying? Good luck with that). Once hyperbole becomes the norm, it loses its effectiveness as a device. We get jaded as stories push the envelope further and further. Get simple. Get back to a good story, well-told.

The beauty of simplicity

If you need a bit of hyperbole for effect in your writing, combine it with a simile or metaphor. Also, use different levels – and that would include zero – of hyperbole in the character voices. Allow your characters different speech patterns. Let the characters be as varied as people in the world. As with any literary device, be aware of what you’re using and why.

Diane Sherlock

11 Comments on A World’s Worth of Hyperbole!!!

  1. Summer Connell | April 3, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Reply

    Sometimes when I write I use today’s language if that makes sense. I feel that it makes the reader more comfortable when reading. I don’t want the writing to be all stiff, so changing the sentence up makes a difference.

  2. Hyperbole and some modern colloquialisms can work, but you need to be careful. If you want the reader to be comfortable, let them take a nap with some soothing spa music in the background. But if you want to touch your reader, to make them look up from the page, even if just for a second, to make them think “Wow…”, then that’s where you can’t afford to cheapen your language.
    Some novice writers feel that adding some of today’s popular language makes the story less stiff. It can, in some cases. But if you overdo it, then the overall piece becomes clunky. Unwieldy. Ugly, even. Scroll back up and check out that photo of the girl with the crazy makeup. That’s the kind of story you’ll end up with if you aren’t careful.
    If your reader has an IQ above that of a common mushroom, they can probably make sense of some stiffer language. Don’t be afraid of simple statements or some more formal language.
    Write well, write often.

  3. janet anderson | April 5, 2013 at 10:01 pm | Reply

    i write very stiff at times with no imagination and your right when you say people are incapable of speaking without hyperbole in everything they do i guess i use it also its just to easy for me.

  4. dina rodriguez | April 6, 2013 at 1:43 pm | Reply

    I think its important to have good speech in your writing. You should never make your writing to stiff or crazy,or even to calm. I like to write stories that keep people on their toes and make them want to keep reading. But you shouldn’t use to many hyperboles or your story might end up like that crazy lady with to much makeup. So be subtle but not to subtle.

  5. DeZerae Fraijo | April 16, 2013 at 3:57 pm | Reply

    I’ve really never been one to use a lot of hyperbole in any of my writting. I do use some in my normal everyday speech; however, it doesn’t seem natural to physically write it all down.
    I really find no need for really any kind of hyperbole in my writting: if I want a good story, I don’t see why it would ever be necassary to exagerate.
    Sure–I write fiction–but I want my readers to actually feel sucked into the world I have created for them. I can’t let a hyperbole throw them out.

  6. Drew Williams | April 18, 2013 at 6:52 pm | Reply

    You can’t exaggerate everything because people would think you’re annoying. It’s okay to hyperbolize some things, though.

    • Drew Williams | May 17, 2013 at 7:31 am | Reply

      Hyperbole can be a good way to emphasize or describe something, but not every sentence in a book can be a wild exaggeration.

  7. Hyperbole is very important because it helps to make a scene more descriptive. But if used to much it can become annoying because the audience already has a sence of whats going on and they dont need the extra unneeded adjectives.

  8. JessicaRae Padilla | April 20, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Reply

    Hyperbole can be used for good, but can also make your writing sound bad real quick, Too much can get you in to using too much detail that doesn’t need to be in the story, yes it’s goo to use to explain but when done to much it’s pointless. When reading you want your reader to have a Sense of comfort be able to understand what it is they are reading because if they can’t they just won’t be that interested into your writing

  9. Whenever a writer is trying to look impressive they exagerate a lot, and make themselves look uneducated writers. Just like Diane said teenagers exaggerate a lot by using curse words to be like those cool kids, but instead they look dumb.

    • Christian Beaman | May 1, 2013 at 10:41 am | Reply

      I noticed that hyperbole is very important if you want to describe a trait in your writing but does not need to be used too much being too descriptive is also bad.

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