1. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Out of place, out of time?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by SuperVenom, Jan 22, 2014.

    There are some great similes and metaphors kicking about in literature but the one thing that always bugged me was the use of them when the example you give may not exist in the time period or universe.

    What i mean is could you say take the example "Thrown around like a rag doll" (cliche I know but not going to think to hard about example all i be here all day staring at screen) when describing something in the scene that was say set in the stone age. The "Rag doll" doesn't exist yet, but the reader knows what it is. Granted in first person it is clearer that it best not to use but Omnipresent and other 3rd person views is where i get confused.

    In a space fantasy set on a far away planet you could describe a creature as mouse like, but what there are no mice (so tempted to write mouses) on that planet and the characters have never been in contact with one?
     
  2. Earthshine
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    Earthshine Member

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    I think if you do use metaphors which of out of place in the setting, you're going to have a bad time. Unless it's a kind of satirical novel in which authorial intrusion is allowed. When a reader spots something which is so clearly out of place, it's going to bring them to a screeching halt.

    Maybe try coming up with your own metaphors. Ones which fit inside your story.
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    It could work as long as the reader knows what you mean based on the context. Like Earthshine said, use literary devices that fit within your piece's universe.
     
  4. Robert_S
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    Robert_S Contributing Member

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    Or...show the creature, rather than tell about its look.
     
  5. SweetOrbMace
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    SweetOrbMace Member

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    In such settings I think there are two things two watch out for, the first is the one you already identified - a metaphor that is anachronous, the second is making up your own metaphor likening one made up thing to another made up thing. I can't remember the exact line but some science fiction book I read had a line something like: "the (name of villain) had a look in his eyes like a kroxi beast" (that wasn't the actual name of the animal, I just made it up). Since no one outside of the novel and the author knows what a kroxi beast looks like why mention it? Why not just say a "wild animal on the hunt" or similar depending on what you want to convey?

    This is where Robert S' suggestion is the most useful I think, just describe it. E.g. "The man was thrown around with such force his limbs flailed out of his control" (rubbish I know, but I really should be working).

    My penny's worth anyway...
     
  6. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Def some food for thought guys. It's just always made me wonder. And I kinda like the name Kroxi :D.
     
  7. SweetOrbMace
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    SweetOrbMace Member

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    If you want it, you can have it!
     
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  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I try never to use imagery that doesn't fit into my universe. Just earlier this evening, in another thread, I brought up an example: What if, in The Hobbit, Tolkien had written something like, "Smaug's roar sounded like a Harley-Davidson's engine revving." Would that make sense? Or would it pull the reader out of the story? I think the latter.

    Keep your imagery in your world. If there are no rag dolls in your stone age, don't use rag doll imagery. That's my advice.
     
  9. SuperVenom
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    SuperVenom Contributing Member

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    Cheers guys, the Tolkien example was just what I was thinking of. But why does the child in me want to write "Thrown around like an OOh UG-a-booboo" :D

    Appreciate the help :)
     

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