I’ve been trying to think of a way to repay the “Kindness of Others” (to paraphrase Blanche) who have informative web sites for writers and to talk about something I am interested in. So I’ve decided to blog about various ways to use language to enhance the basic story. I could have called this “Figures of Speech” or “Tropes” or “Comparisons” or some other comprehensive expression, but nothing else has the simple elegance of alliteration. So Monday Metaphors it will be.
To begin, “Metaphor” seems like a good place to start. A metaphor is a name or descriptive term ascribed to something to which it is not literally applicable. Metaphor assumes the reader understands both the literal and the symbolic meanings and is able to bridge the metaphorical gap.
Englishclub.com gives this example:
Metaphor Example: My father is a rock.
Original sense: hard, mineral material made of stone.
Metaphorical sense: very strong or reliable person.
Oftentimes, a word the writer is using suggests a companion, a concrete or abstract closeness to the original word that it can almost be a synonym. The second word comes on the heels of the original so quickly as to seem glued to it. A word of caution—often that comparison is a cliché. “He was an animal.” “Her eyes were pools.” Better to search for an original concept. “Not a thought in his snail brain.” “Her eyes were forget-me-nots.” “The sea was having a tantrum.” Metaphors do not use words of comparison, such as “like” or “similar to,” but come right out and call the thing the other, not “Her eyes were like forget-me-nots.”
Shakespeare said, “All the world’s a stage.”
Alfred Noyes, in The Highwayman, said, “The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees,”
In Brenna Clarke’s River, Cross My Heart, Johnnie Mae goes swimming at the new swimming pool: “It was her lane only, her water before her, and she plowed through it with all the energy she had.”
In my Dalton: King of the Diamond, “The pitcher winds and Dalton swings. He hits the ball and it takes wings.”
In my Arctic Danger, Kiana is distracted by the beautiful flowers: “’These pretty little forger-me-nots have a tiny speck of sunlight in the center,’ she said.” “Girls,” said Gary.
Metaphors should be used sparingly in order to carry the most impact; don’t over-salt the meat; sprinkle delicately.