Metaphors and phrases I like

by Jennifer Bryce

As a new writer, I often marvel at the language of other more experienced writers. One beautifully chosen word sums up a feeling or paints a picture. So for a couple of years now, I’ve been ‘collecting’ these examples as I read. I use an index card as a bookmark. I usually have a pen nearby, so it is no trouble to record these phrases when I read them. I apologise that I haven’t noted all the publication details of the books. Here are ten phrases from my collection.

Judge Beggs lay on his stern iron bed Zelda Fitzgerald, Save Me the Waltz, p.16
The leggy pier Beverley Farmer, A Body of Water, p 134
The clatter of his wife’s existence Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, p 33
The glacial neatness of Mrs Peniston’s drawing-room Edith Wharton, The House of Mirth, p 42
Their fathers were all ruddy, explosive men Toni Jordan: Addition, p. 41
The hoarse voice of the preacher blew death into his soul James Joyce, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, p.120
Nancy, dressed at enormous expense by the greatest artists in Paris, stood there looking as if her body had merely put forth, of its own accord, a green frill. Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, page 157
They stay turtled up to the bar Ben Fountain: Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, p.199
the ceiling fan’s blades . . . slowly shucked time Richard Flanagan: The Narrow Road to the Deep North, p.146
the red and grey huddle of Kiplington Winifred Holtby: South Riding, p. 61

Here are ten more that I’ve collected:

My heart flopped in my chest like a hooked fish. Karen Joy Fowler: We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, p.45
Like the onset of some cold glaucoma dimming away the world. Cormac McCarthy: The Road
the words fidgeted in her mouth Markus Zusak: The Book Thief, p. 147
a gust of annoyance Cate Kennedy: Former Glory (novella), p.34
irrepressible vitality Vera Brittain: Testament of Friendship
a crackling aura of purpose Helen Garner: This House of Grief p.169
curdled with contempt Helen Garner: This House of Grief p.224
We were all standing in a soup of grief. Margaret Drabble: The Pure Gold Baby p. 177
her nicotine-cadenced throat Margaret Drabble: The Pure Gold Baby p.182
her red coat bled into view Emily Bitto: The Strays p.1