StreetWrites Workshop for Writing Out of the Margins

The Tremendous Technique of Total Exaggeration

     "He was so rough he wore out his clothes from the inside." Louis L'Amour
     "She had a two-hour meeting scheduled every half-an-hour."
     "His language would blister the hide off the space shuttle."
Exaggeration is also called "hyperbole." It has several uses:

Each of the character types described above is instantly recognizable in one line; a more subtle description of their character would take longer to develop. There is another word for "instantly recognizable character" of course: stereotype. Stereotype depends on exaggerated stock characteristics that are instantly recognizable: the extremely absent-minded Professor; the utterly stupid blonde.
"This chili is spicy!" to "This chili would boil on a cold stove."
"I'm hungry!" to "If dinner isn't ready, I'll take a dinosaur, two bears, or five horses."
"Caricature" is the exaggeration of the traits of a person or type:
"I say, Old Thing," he drawled, "have you seen my Morning-Dove Gray Waistcoat for Being Charming to Maiden Aunts at Two in the Afternoon?"

Exaggeration is used in humor, satire, horror novels, romantic description, sex scenes, sermons... anywhere words are used, exaggeration is used sooner or later.

Looking for Hyperbole:

Exercising Hyperbole:

Guidelines for Critique:

Write On!
Anitra L. Freeman

StreetWrites Workshop Exercises