Wright’s Writing Corner: Writing Tips–Measurement By Example

Measurements by example:  Tall as a man, rather than six feet high, where applicable.


Hmm. I have promised to write a post on each of my on each of my Writing Tips. Not sure I have a whole lot to say about this one, though. It is pretty straightforward.

This idea was suggested by my friend Von. She felt that measurements like six feet often left a person with no particular mental image, while “the height of a man” was much easier to mentally picture.


Since I could not tell you on larger measurements if a particular length were 100’ or 1000’, I immediately took to this idea. I do not always remember to use it, and sometimes it does not seem appropriate, but here are a few examples.


“This arching gate was flanked by giant tusks, nine times the size of a man, which shone with an ivory light.” (from Prospero In Hell)


 “The tiny serpentine dragon was about the length of a pencil.”


“Around the corner lumbered a gigantic mammoth over four car lengths long.”


“I hefted the MacGuffin. It weighted about as much as three gallons of milk.”


“The drooling Hobgrobbernob shambled toward me. He was about an Olympic swimming pool away. Unfortunately, the terrain was flat grass not deep water.”


“I ran. It continued to shamble. Soon, the distance was more like a soccer field. Then two soccer fields. Then three. Maybe today would not be my last day after all.”


It is pretty simple. Pick the length, size, etc. you want to express. Thing of some recognizable object of a similar length. Describe the measurement in terms of the recognizable object.


You get the picture.