The Value Of A Proverb


Travelling into work the other day, I noticed the most beautiful red sunrise. This made me think of the Red Sky proverb: “red sky at night, shepherd’s delight; red sky in the morning, shepherd’s warning”. Now, the day that followed that beautiful red sky wasn’t untoward, though it was bitterly cold, but it made me think of old proverbs and sayings which people still use today.

The Chambers dictionary defines proverbs as being “any of a body of well-known neatly-expressed sayings that give advice or express a supposed truth”.

What I like about proverbs are the common beliefs and visual imagery attached to them. Some examples are as follows: “a leopard cannot change its spots”, “too many cooks spoil the broth”, “a watched pot (kettle) doesn’t boil”, “and money doesn’t grow in trees”.

Most proverbs are easy to remember, too, and certain morals and values can be ascribed to many a household saying: “make hay while the sun shines”, “patience is a virtue”, and “to err is human, to forgive divine”.

The Power Of Words

Proverbs can teach us much in a fiction writing sense, too, whether it’s narrative or dialogue. The brevity of sentence construction, the strength of accurate writing and the power of a good message.

At the end of the day, writing shouldn’t be over-elaborate or unduly complicated. In its simplest form, fiction writing should be able to illuminate the reader’s heart and mind.

From the moment we wake up in the morning, we’re living in the moment, expressing ourselves spontaneously and creatively whether we realise it or not. The same can be applied to our fiction writing, which, like our favourite proverbs, should reflect both accuracy and inspiration.

You can find more tips in our Writing Tools section.

Alan Spink

Alan is a member of the “Friend” Fiction Team. He enjoys working closely with writers and being part of the creative process which sees storytelling ideas come to fruition. A keen reader, he also writes fiction and enjoys watching football and movies in his spare time. His one aspiring tip to new writers is to “write from your imagination”.