1. TeaBag
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    TeaBag New Member

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    Metaphors

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by TeaBag, Aug 24, 2009.

    I am currently writing a novel but I'm really struggling with metaphors. I try and include some metaphors in my work but I usually find it detracts from what I've just written and is therefore, irrelevant.

    I'm not even sure if I am using the metaphor correctly:

    He was frozen in her presence, fixed to a particular spot on the floor. He couldn’t resist but change grey, dreary cloud to sunshine and create a beaming expression on her face.

    Am I using the metaphor correctly here?

    Do you use a lot of metaphors in your work or do you prefer to use other literary techniques such as the simile, personification or onomatopoeia?
     
  2. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just an opinion here, but I think if you're not completely comfortable on using metaphors, you shouldn't try to use them. I find when I try to include aspects of writing that I think mature writers do, the writing comes out awkward and completely obvious that I'm trying to do something rather than it being organic to the story and to my writing style in general.

    Be yourself, I'd say. Just tell the story that's in your heart.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I recommend reading some poetry. There are lots of examples of similes and metaphors in poetry. Once you read enough of those that have metaphors, you will feel more comfortable using them in a novel. In fact, poetry uses a lot of different literary techniques, so my advice is not specific to just metaphors.
     
  4. Leah Woods
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    Leah Woods Active Member

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    I agree with Marina on using metaphors. If you don't feel comfortable using them, then don't.

    And the example you wrote, well, I'm not sure whether it's correct or not, but to me it sounds awkward. I get what you're trying to say with it, but I needed to re-read it twice to fully understand it. But then again, it can just be me.
     
  5. mistressoftheflies
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    mistressoftheflies Member

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    Gah, metaphors mess up my mind. :p I can never make any that are actually good. Yours does sound a little awkward. I can't put my finger on it. Maybe too many adjectives?
     
  6. TeaBag
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    TeaBag New Member

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    I'm glad I'm not the only one who has problems with metaphors! It's so frustrating. I feel like I should add some to my story as it's like a common literary technique and without any, it would be a little weird wouldn't it?

    I thought my metaphor example was a really awkward one. I will need to try and rewrite it, so it flows.
     
  7. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Personally I like similes more than metaphors, though I do use them both from time to time, the former more than the later.

    "He was frozen in her presence, fixed to a particular spot on the floor."
    There is nothing wrong with this first part. The problem comes with the second sentence. Try reading it out loud...it doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. The "but" is definitely part of what is throwing the sentence off.

    "He couldn’t resist but change grey, dreary cloud to sunshine and create a beaming expression on her face."

    Plus gray is the proper spelling for the color. If this is something in a piece that you are writing, I would scrap the whole second sentence and try to think of another way to put his actions into words.
     
  8. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Perhaps you're trying to get some imagery in here...?
    Maybe there is no need for a metaphor. Try to express what you want to be told differently when your not sure if your metaphor is solid or not. Hope that helps:)
     
  9. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    The good metephors come naturally. Don't put any special effort into it. Even the writers that are good at it annoy me when they use too many.
     
  10. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Metaphor is a used condom, baking in the sun.
     
  11. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    ^ that is WIN. :D
     
  12. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Fork, that is so freaking gross, but very effective.
     
  13. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    If you feel uneasy about using metaphors, become the writer who is known for never ever using one in his books. Either that, or more likely; nobody will even notice them not being there.
     
  14. Kirvee
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    Kirvee Contributing Member

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    The first half of that metaphor of yours sounded right, but then you lost me in the second half. I think it has more to do with either awkward word choice or something else....

    I never use metaphors intentionally. I might make one unconciously if I want to make a messege stronger or paint a better picture, but I agree with everyone else that if you aren't comfortable with it then don't use it.

    I recommend you practice some metaphors before you actually apply them. Just my two cents, though.
     
  15. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    Also, I really agree with what thirdwind said about reading poetry to understand the proper use of metaphors. Some of the most gorgeous writing in novels comes from writers who are poets.
     
  16. canadianmint
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    canadianmint Member

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    Sometimes to strengthen my ability to even think metaphorically I will observe my surroundings (people, objects, etc) and make up metaphors just to exercise that part of my brain. Some really suck, others are tolerable.

    I find for myself using metaphors in my writing slows me down to stop and smell the roses. So usually for the first draft I just write whatever comes to mind. The second is when I ponder scenes a bit deeper and see if I am inspired to draw out those more reflective sentences.
     
  17. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    All novels I read use metaphors. Some authors use them well; others do not.

    I think what you are trying to say is that he couldn't resist trying to put a smile on her face. In that case, no, the metaphor here doesn't work.

    He couldn't resist trying to change her gray, cloudy expression into a sunshine smile.

    He couldn't help but try and bring sunshine to her gray and cloudy expression.

    He couldn't resist trying to make her smile, to bring a little sunshine into her rainy day.

    blah, blah. :)
     
  18. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Metaphors can be localized or extended. An extended metaphor can extend over several sentences, or even encompass most of a novel. A war can be a metaphor for a personal dilemna, and vicce versa.

    A localized metaphor just adds more color and depth to a simple image or phrase, and helps establish mood:
     
  19. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    I think that the metaphor you used is fine, but you wrote it in an awkward fashion. Metaphors, by nature, use completely unrelated meanings to relate a completely unrelated meaning.
    I mean, clouds and sunshine have nothing to do with anything, but logically, they can represent happiness and distraught.

    My point is, when you use a metaphor, you should make it abundantly clear that you are now using one.
    I thought what you did was fairly clever, but there was no transition to the metaphor and it was momentarily confusing.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Are you suggesting that metaphors should never be subtle. Atari?

    Also, to whom was your response directed?
     
  21. Ghosts in Latin
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    Ghosts in Latin Senior Member

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    If you want a good example of metaphors, read Ray Bradbury.
     
  22. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    I don't agree with the "abundantly clear" part lest I feel talked down to. I prefer for a metaphor to just be woven nicely in to the story, sitting there like a riddle for me to decipher/discover on my own.
     
  23. Forkfoot
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    Forkfoot Contributing Member Contributor

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    Optimally, for me, the author literally jumps off the page and tries to bash my brains in with the metaphor.
     
  24. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    LOL, forkfoot! :cool:
     
  25. Atari
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    Atari Active Member

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    Metaphors, for me, make the story boring, unless I understand it.


    "So I was walking along, and ducks are like a porridge of spinning yarns, if my mindset was accurate."

    Me: o_O . . . wait, what?

    (Yes, that was a simile, but my point remains)

    What's the point in suddenly writing something that has to be deciphered, if it is SPECIFICALLY a description of someone's emotions or actions?

    Metaphors, I thought, are for describing something in a manner that the reader can relate to.
    It shouldn't be a blatant and distracting thing, but it should also be understandable, lest it be made of none effect.


    Edit: To Cogita:

    I am making a specific distinction between subtle (good) and unclear (bad).
     

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