1. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Is this a good metaphor and does it make sense?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by waitingforzion, Mar 30, 2014.

    Please tell me what you think about the overall quality of this sentence, and about the quality of the imagery I am trying to use.

    "When our friendship was a tent, I sought to set in its place a mansion made of diamond, but the winds of my words did set our tent to flight, and only wind now flows in its place, whirling in the form of a tent, but never taking the form of a tent, nor carrying back the tent that once was there."

    Does this sound better though?

    "When our friendship was a tent, I sought to set in its place a mansion made of diamond, but the winds of my words did set our tent to flight, and only wind now flows there. It whirls in the form of a tent, but it never takes the form of a tent, nor does it carry back the tent that once was there."
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The word 'tent' repeats too many times. I think it borders on purple prose but there is some poetic beauty in there that perhaps just needs some work.
     
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  3. Andrae Smith
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    Andrae Smith Gone exploring... in the inner realm... Contributor

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    I second what Ginger said. I do like the way the second version rolls, but I might revise it to something like this:

    The biggest hiccup for me is the line, "... It whirls in the form of a tent, but it never takes the form of a tent, nor does it carry back the tent that once was there." You say it whirls in the form of a tent... but then it never takes the form of a tent. I take it you mean that it never becomes a tent. Try rethinking it a little more. I like the metaphor you are creating. It all depends on when and where it comes in, as well as who it comes from--meaning it should match the speaker's voice/character.
     
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  4. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    I'm going to second what Andrae said. This line:

    It whirls in the form of a tent, but it never takes the form of a tent, nor does it carry back the tent that once was there.

    Is a contradiction. How can it whirl in the form of a tent but never take the form of a tent.

    This line:

    nor does it carry back the tent that once was there.

    Seems wordy. You could take out the word "once" and it's more crisp. Go over those two sentences and cut out the fat.
     
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  5. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Alright, thanks for the insight about my wording.

    The thing that troubles me about cutting out certain words it that it weakens the rhythm, although I acknowledge that the rhythm is already a little off. Is there an alternative phrasing that would be both terse and rhythmical, and can I be assured that with enough effort I can always find such phrasing for whatever thoughts I wish to write? What do you think of prolonging a sentence for the sake of rhythm?
     
  6. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    First up, I don't believe in restricting yourself to a certain word limit for sentences. As long as they need to be and no longer. A book I have on sentence construction advocates short sentences, but the examples the author uses read like western union telegrams. It's one of the main reasons I question that book.

    It's not about sentence length, but wordiness that adds nothing. Cut words and see if it changes the meaning of the sentence.

    Oh, and don't be afraid to use adjectives and adverbs, just don't be excessive. Every rule stems from when the topic of the rule was used too much. As in screenplays, they say don't use transitions or "we hear/we see". Bah, those rules are there because newbies overused those devices.

    I would also say that your use of "wind" twice creates a scratch on the record. Instead of the first occurance of the word, bring it back to something less abstract, such as breath or breeze.

    Rethink. Try new words. See if another rhythm presents itself.
     
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  7. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Is this better or worse?

    "When our friendship was a tent, I sought to set in its place a mansion made of diamond, but the winds of my words did set our tent to flight, and now it flows in the emptiness. It whirls in the shape of what was there, but never takes its form, nor carries back our dwelling from afar."
     
  8. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Nice. One caveat, the "did" in setting it in flight is superfluous as well as the comma between "flight" and "and" I believe.

    That is typical lard people add on trying to be highfalutin. No insult intended. You just need to be aware that it adds nothing and the comma creates a splice.
     
  9. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    I borrowed a little from a suggested revision in this thread.

    So you are saying that this is better?

    "When our friendship was a tent, I sought to set in its place a mansion made of diamond, but the winds of my words set our tent to flight and now it flows in the emptiness. It whirls in the shape of what was there, but never takes its form, nor carries back our dwelling from afar."

    Also, another question: When it repetition of words acceptable for the sake of rhythm? I know it is at times, and obviously in my example it wasn't.
     
  10. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    ok, in one sentence, you used "set" twice.

    It gets tricky, that writing thing.

    Ok, if it were me, only me, I think this would sound good:

    "When our friendship was a tent, I sought in its place a mansion of diamond, but the winds of my words set our tent to flight and now it floats in emptiness."

    And even there is a strangeness to "flight" and "float" in such proximity to each other. An alliteration combined with an opposite assonance that creates a skip or scratch. Flight has an uplifting quality to it. Float sounds a bit morose. Neither is wrong by themselves. It's when they stand so close to each other.

    Now, I'm looking at "winds of my words" as a possible rub. Maybe it's better you don't listen to me. You won't end up with anything you started with.
     
  11. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    I hope there is at least a sentence before this metaphor that explains why the friendship is like a tent to begin with. Otherwise, this coming out of the blue would sound a little ridiculous if you asked me. I might write it something like this:

    When our friendship was a tent, I sought in its place a mansion of diamond, but the tempest of my words set our tent to flight and now we have but emptiness. The winds will not carry back to us even that most humble dwelling.

    But nobody asked me :p
     
  12. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    I didn't really have a good reason why I compared the friendship to a tent. I only just started experimenting with metaphors and I wanted to make this description. Why is it ridiculous to liken a concept to an object without the intent to draw a comparison? I used it in a overall metaphor, so instead of the friendship being compared to a tent, offenses words destroying friendship and having no power to restore it are being compared to a wind driving away a tent and replacing it. I mean there is a little more to it that the metaphor is intended to describe, but you get the basic idea.

    So, do you think that if I intended to use the metaphor this way, I should have structured my piece differently, so as the emphasize the likening of the overall situation?

    And do you think the fact that your choice of words would entirely annihilate mine is an indicator of our difference in style, or of superiority in your level of skill, (not that I have any skill to begin with)?
     
  13. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Just for clarity, I presume you were alluding to the flimsy nature of a tent as opposed to a solid structure like a mansion? The word flimsy, whilst an adjective (horrors!) might actually add to the meaning here. When our friendship was a flimsy tent... In other words, it's not the shape of the tent that creates the metaphor, but the fact that it's a flimsy and temporary shelter? You later get embroiled in the wind creating the shape of the tent, etc ...which might be why the metaphor gets muddled as you expand upon it.
     
  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Because that's what a metaphor does. It compares similarities so that the characteristics of one is transcribed to the other. If the friendship was like a tent because it sheltered you both from forces meant to harm you and/or offered a flimsy shield of protection, then it make sense. If it's just an arbitrary tent because you like the imagery or whatever, it's literally useless.

    The wind stuff doesn't work. Point blank. It sounds pretty and fluffy but in the end there's little meaning beyond the pretty words.
     
  15. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Yes, I was alluding to that. So, if I added the word flimsy, and cleared it up, could I keep the rest of it, and have it still make sense?
     
  16. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Sorry, I recalled after someone else brought it up, that I did intend to speak of the flimsiness of the tent as opposed to the solidity of the mansion.

    And also, the wind stuff has a specific meaning. At least I intended it to have meaning.

    The wind is words, so when the wind drives away the tent, and whirls in the shape of a tent, that means that I offended the person with my words, and attempted to continue the friendship by means of words and apologizes, but cannot by means of words complete the substance of the friendship itself. And when the wind does not carry back the tent, that means that my words are not able to restore the friendship. Does that make any sense?
     
  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Fair enough.

    Honestly, not to me it didn't. I understood that wind represented words, but why it forms the shape of the tent I don't understand. It reads to me like the words created the shape of the tent, hence the benefits of the friendship, to try and replicate what was, but how the words responsible for damaging the friendship do that I don't understand.

    So from me the answer to your question is no.
     
  18. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    Oh! So you're saying that I didn't differentiate between the words that damaged the friendship, and the words meant to replicate its benefits. But I meant to refer to the wind not as the words themselves, but as the application of words in general. Is there a way that I could make that more clear? And if I made it clear, would the metaphor then make sense?

    I mean I used "words" not as a specific set of words, but as words in general, which of course were words that I spoke.
     
  19. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I understand it is words in general, not specific words. What isn't clear is why the words could possibly form the tent in the first place because it isn't clear what the tent represents. And I don't mean friendship. Does it represent shelter? Protection? Isolation? WHY is it like friendship. Then I'll understand how the words try and replicate the meaning without success. I guess. I'm not sure.
     
  20. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    It may be too abstract. I once got criticized for a metaphor I used comparing the progress of a person's life to the looming of fabric because of its abstractness.

    There is a short story of the magical realism kind that is one huge metaphor. "My Life With the Wave" by Octavio Paz. Give that a read.

    Also, another, has a couple nice metaphors, but they are short. Taking up one sentence for the two: "Long Walk to Forever", by Kurt Vonnegut Jr. See if you can spot them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014
  21. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    If this piece doesn't need to be written to meet a deadline, I'd say just leave this metaphor a while and let it cook in your brain. Let your mind explore the idea of a tent that gets blown away by a wind. Think about what it would take to restore it ...or why it can't be restored. Then link the ideas to friendship. Let the links form slowly. And good luck. I think your basic idea—that a new friendship doesn't have much of a foundation yet, and can easily be wrecked by the wrong words—is a good one to write about.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014
  22. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    Wow, to the OP, tried to be nice about it and just gave you what I would have done like several posters above me. No need to get so defensive. The above is pretty much what I was getting at and you didn't snap at this poster. It's too abstract as it is, so yes I do think it needs restructuring. I only added my rewrite to give an idea of how I think you could salvage it, no annihilation intended.
     
  23. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    I didn't snap at you either. Sorry. As you can see, I have trouble using the right words.

    Weird, I started trying to explain what I meant, and I forgot that I really did mean that your words would utterly supplant mine. But I didn't mean it in an offensive way. I just meant that since you said if I followed your advice I would be left with nothing that was there, I wanted to know if your preference was due to different taste or superior taste in your opinion, so i could know how much I needed to work on my diction.
     
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2014
  24. AlannaHart
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    AlannaHart Contributing Member

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    I would never say superior taste! That would be awful and arrogant. I think you could salvage the idea behind your metaphor but I agree with the other posters about the repetition and abstractness of the initial wording.
     
  25. waitingforzion
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    waitingforzion Active Member

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    But can't I still use it if I don't refer to it as a metaphor? Like, let's say that the overall situation is a metaphor, and the tent is likened to friendship in solidity, but the tent merely stands in place as a symbol for friendship otherwise, so that contributing to the overall comparison between the effect of wind upon the tent, and the effect of words upon friendship, it is later referenced as a thing which the wind takes the shape of.

    Perhaps I need to liken the tent to a quality of friendship that the words try to form. So then, the tent must be likened to friendship in two ways, in solidity, and in that quality.

    Does any of that makes sense? Sorry I am not trying to debate your advice. I am just trying to learn how I could go about making this work, and provide some insight into why I am doing certain things.
     

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