(Apologies for length. I promise there's an actual question toward the end.) I'm writing a story with only three characters. The two MC's have amnesia (don't give me grief about being trite. I don't care. It's the crux of the entire story, and the logistics have already been work-shopped more or less to my satisfaction in other threads.) The third character is AI. It's written in first person from the perspective of one of the amnesiac human characters. I originally started in third person, but switching to first solved a myriad of problems, both mechanical and, more importantly, narrative. The human characters retain their vocabulary and functional knowledge. In other words, they don't have to relearn English or how to tie their shoes. What's missing are their memories of all facts and events from their lives, up to and including their own names. There are places in the story where I have to make judgement calls, obviously. They know how to open a door, but can't cook a souffle without instruction, even if it used to be their favorite dish to make. I'm sure this is something I will heavily scrutinize in my second draft, but for now, all that stuff is fine. Here's my problem: The more I write, the more difficult I find it to express sensations and impressions, especially in dialog and internal monologue (which comprise the bulk of a book in first person), without relying on idioms and similes. I can't make comparisons, especially early on, to anything they remember, because they don't remember anything. An example: The first person MC is describing to the reader and to herself the tactile and olfactory sensations of being covered in corpse goo after a zombie attack. So far as she remembers, she's never cleaned out the trap under a sink or dissected frogs in biology class or been vomited on by a drunk friend at a party. Before writing this, I was only vaguely aware of how utterly dependent my sensory descriptions were on simile and metaphor. In fact, I think it's something at which I've always excelled, but now I can't use any of it. I've found ways around it, and it's been an interesting exercise in vocabulary selection, but I'm hoping some of you might have some ideas that haven't occurred to me yet. If nothing else, you might be able to help me break up monotony. She can't keep saying, "It was the single most [adjective] thing I'd experienced since waking up with no memory." or "I had nothing by which to compare it, but I imagined this was what [example she read in a book or saw in a movie last week] felt like." I'm also in danger of overusing, "For some reason, it made me think of [noun I want to use in a simile, but the character wouldn't understand the connection]." The latter example is great, because it points to the differences between the rote and the remembered, but occurrence really needs to be sparse. So what would you do? How would you narrate familiar sensations with which the narrator is unfamiliar? How would you keep it fresh and interesting? ETA: I don't know where to put this query. I think it speaks to character development, because it's vital to thought process, but if a mod wants to move this to Word Mechanics or General or somewhere, I'm totally fine with that.