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  1. sculyblast

    sculyblast New Member

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    Metaphors. How do you find them; Who owns them.

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by sculyblast, Oct 14, 2017.

    Good evening everyone!

    I was a bit disappointed by the last season of game of thrones, so I decided to do a little bit of research to figure out how it differed from the earlier seasons. In the process I found a treasure trove of writing advice. The one that struck me most was this: Metaphors. They make your story very lifelike.

    The problem with Metaphors is that it is very easy to say you will come up with a good metaphor, but very hard in practice. I was wondering if you guys knew of tricks or lists that could help me come up with useful metaphors that i could use strategically in my stories.

    A related question is that of intellectual property. I would never directly steal a character from another writer's work. nor would i copy parts of dialogue. but if i find great metaphors in the work of other writers, am i allowed to use them if they fit my story? Where is the line? surely it would not be a problem to borrow "the straw that broke the camels back" from the bible.

    I am very curious about your thoughts.
    -Sculy
     
  2. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Funky like your grandpa's drawers.... Staff Contributor

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    Do you mean literal metaphors? Like the word for word saying? Fiction is overloaded with sayings, cliches, aphorisms, etc. None of those are copyrightable, though a few can be subject to trademark, but most of those are modern sayings where someone can claim to have coined it first. You might get called out for being pathetically derivative, but you won't get sued for recycling old cliches.

    Or you talking about metaphorical metaphors? Those are all subtext and allusion, and hence, nearly impossible to reproduce directly. Shouldn't have a problem there either.
     
  3. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I feel the need for at least one example of exactly what you mean here.

    At one extreme, there are things like, "Her hair was silk."

    At the other end, there's something I recently saw where an author saw a marriage in her book as representing the 19th century conflict between science and religion.
     
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  4. sculyblast

    sculyblast New Member

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    One of the metaphors that I really liked, was from the second season of the BBC series "Versailles".
    In it, the king asks "how do you tame a wild stallion?", his servant answers "I don't know. With a whip, i suppose." King "No, you put it to pasture with an already tame horse".
    It is a particular, aphoristic type of metaphor. It reveals a nugget of wisdom about how the world works, or should work.
    You can easily reword this bit of dialogue to avoid direct plagiarism, but the fact remains that it is not my metaphor, I took it from some place.

    My concern is not legal, it is ethical.
    To what extent may art be imitation?
     
  5. OJB

    OJB A Mean Old Man Contributor

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    Okay, What you are after is called Rhetorical writing. The basic idea behind it is a speaker (The king in your example) tries to get an audience (the servant) to see his point of view. The metaphor is one of the devices that can be used in Rhetorical writing. Sadly, I don't have any Resources on the subject I can suggest at the moment, but if you google Rhetorics I'm sure you will find some great examples.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2017
  6. Seven Crowns

    Seven Crowns Contributor Contributor

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    Are you asking if you can take their idea? Because you already have. Everything you read goes into you. When it sees paper again, it will be something new. If you just write down other writers' words directly, that's not good. But you can make them your own. IMO, there's nothing wrong with that. If it's done right, no one will recognize it.

    I have a book somewhere (I'm not sure which one . . . sorry) that talks about coining new metaphors. When you find a metaphor that works, you pull it apart and try to make new ones with it. Nine out ten rewrites will be failures, but you'll find one of your own that really works and is yours.

    Your example is a pretty good one. It's a hypophora, metaphor, and an anecdote all at once. So if I were deconstructing it, I would switch the actors (keeping a senior/junior relationship) and ask a different question. It's being told as old wisdom, so you keep that feel too. Then you try to build off that and say the same thing, or even something new.
     

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