Use hyperbole to make memorable moments

Sometimes the best way to drive home a point is to exaggerate. When doing so in a story, the author is utilizing a technique known as hyperbole.

For example, Mark Twain in “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” to describe a character’s gambling habits, wrote, “…if there was two birds setting on a fence, he would bet you which one would fly first.”

These exaggerations are not meant to be taken seriously. Still, they can be quite powerful, either by creating a strong impression or by serving as a form of humor.

Hyperbole achieves the first by expressing emotional states via an intensifying of the wording, such as: It’s as hot as an oven outside; Her face was as thin and dry as an onion skin; or His pupils sharpened like the points of two knives. Usually, though, it is noticed as a form of humor, especially as quips; for example, Sammy Johns sang in “Chevy Van,” “I put her out in a town that was so small/You could throw a rock from end to end.”

Sometimes characters themselves can be hyperboles. Paul Bunyan and other folklore heroes are such examples. There’s no way Paul could be as large as he was, eat as much as he did, or achieve all that he was credited for.

Consider using hyperboles in your own writing. They can spice up your writing by creating memorable imagery or humor.