1. yeybez
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    yeybez Member

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    Style How much similes/metaphors do you use?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by yeybez, Aug 10, 2016.

    I feel like I might be over-using my metaphors, especialy since I often make them extended metaphors and refer back to the same image later in the paragraph/text. I think I'm running the risk of producing an ohwow-so-deep cringe-fest which is just boring to the reader if I overuse them.

    I gave it a google and I came across a lot of people saying that your plot in itself should be the main metaphor and that similes/metaphors should be kept to a minimum. but then again top writers such as L. P. Hartley basicly drench their writing in metaphor and simile.

    any advice on the subject would be much apreciated, thanks in advance.
     
  2. Goldenclover179
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    Goldenclover179 Member

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    It depends on if it's a good metaphor or not. A well-written, detailed but not overly complex metaphor that is referred to more than once can give a writing a beauty that otherwise wouldn't be there, and can make something much more relatable, much more interesting to read. You could even have a metaphor that takes more than two sentences to describe, if well done, it'll add an interesting theme to a story and maybe highlight or intensify just how much of something an object or relationship is to the reader. But if you've got three, four, of these going on, it'll make the writing sound like it's trying too hard.
     
  3. Greenwood
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    Greenwood Active Member

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    What's over-using? How much do you use them in your own writing? Every page? Every paragraph? Anything that's overdone will stand out in a negative way. Context is important too, I think. I often use them in descriptive writing, when the pov character has the time to view the things around him/her, but in a fast paced action scene, where new events happen every second, I think it comes across as a bit silly to include them as there isn't even time for thinking, let alone metaphors and similes. Having a good few of them every now and then can enrichen prose, but like you said yourself, if it happens every few sentences, a reader may soon grow tired of them and think your prose purple and pretentious.
     
  4. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    I'm not really aware of any metaphors in my writing—which may indicate that I don't have any—but as for similes, I try to keep them down to one simplified phrase. If I can't get it to work in (say) seven or eight words in the object (for those who don't know, the part of a sentence that comes most naturally after the verb), I abandon it.
     
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  5. Sack-a-Doo!
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    Sack-a-Doo! Contributing Member Contributor

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    My first reaction to this is that if you feel like you're overdoing it, you likely are. I've come to depend heavily on instinct while writing and it sounds like yours are kicking up a fuss.

    That said, though, you may be breaking new ground in writing and that's fear trying to stop you. There's really no way to know the difference until you're ready to show your work.
     
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  6. JLT
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    JLT Active Member

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  7. OurJud
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    OurJud Contributing Member Contributor

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    Like @Sack-a-Doo! I'm not consciously aware of using them - or maybe that should be over-using them. Similes are easy to slip in naturally, and without even thinking about it, but metaphors require a little more attention so I think I'd know if I was over-using them.
     
  8. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    First draft I wouldn't worry too much - you can always cut some of them out. Just make sure they're relevant. I find that some of mine are author intrusion and have nothing to do with the moment or the character. I just think they sound nice. That's when I know it's time to cut back.
     
  9. Robert Musil
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    Robert Musil Contributing Member

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    This reaaaally seems like one of those "it depends on how well you execute it" questions. I can imagine some great writing that's stuffed with the things, I can also imagine some terrible writing that's the same way. If you post a sample of what you're talking about in the workshop I bet you'd get some of the sort of feedback you're looking for.
     
  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    My Urban Fantasy MC loves wordplay and extended metaphors so much that I deliberately put in bad ones for him to complain to himself about as not being his best work ;) I even set up one of the most emotional scenes towards the beginning as being my character noticing that one of his metaphors was unusually good (though I personally would disagree, I personally think that one was a little bit obscure for my taste) and that his best friend will want to hear it ... before remembering that she was sent to the hospital by a mad bomber and that he doesn't know if she'll live long enough to hear his new line.
     
  11. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    I use a fair amount of metaphor in my works. And it is fun to have other characters misunderstand them. :p
     
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  12. deadrats
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    deadrats Active Member

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    I was going to say I never use them. Then I thought about it a little and realized I use them a lot. Well, not a ton, but more often than I thought. I don't think I overuse them. I think this is where we hope our writer's intuition kicks in, as someone mentioned earlier. If you think you might have a problem, it's worth taking a closer look and cutting where needed. Also, as someone else said, it matters how good they are. We are not always the best judges of our own work. If you have some that you're unsure about, see if you can't run them by someone and see what they think. But even if they are all good, too much of a good thing can become a bad thing.
     
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  13. Malisky
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    Malisky Fuzz Overdriver Contributor

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    I haven't read any of the comments above. Just so you and anybody knows. Whatever. I think that metaphors are a lovely thing in writing. When used moderately and on the spot. I love metaphors from different countries but I don't know if that's just my own taste and preference. I think that metaphors transfer you to the place you ought to be in a story. It gives the mind-set and the reasoning which I love so much. But it's not understood always. Different mind-sets you see. Some wise phrases are hard to be translated to the crew you are wishing to. It doesn't mean that it's irrelevant though. (If it were, then European cinema would have been a thing of the past, which is not). :p

    I think it's wisdom. I love metaphors. But as I said it's in the eye if the beholder. So... You make your own decisions.
     

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