Here’s something for the romantics: an example of how to deploy metaphor to convey ideas of romance succinctly. In this video D.D. Johnston takes a process that is often unconscious and shows how and why we can arrive at the right image.
A commenter on a previous video noted that “You can get carried away saying ‘this is like this and this is like this and this is like this.’ It can reach the point where you just want to say ‘shut up and get on with the plot.’” It’s a fair point and I agree that in most instances you need a good reason to use a metaphor. Usually, for a metaphor to be worthwhile, it has to do at least two things. Find out what in our latest video.
Metaphor: a figure of speech that finds similarities between two things. From the Greek metaphora: meta (among, over, with, beside) and pherein (“to carry”), metaphor literally means to carry one thing into another. It is a way we writers can create infinite shades of meaning, just as an artist can create infinite shades by mixing the colours on her palette. Aristotle believed use of metaphor was a sign of genius. Certainly, it can facilitate economy of expression: to write that one’s room is “like a prison cell” contains a range of meanings that would otherwise take paragraphs to express. But using metaphor isn’t always easy…
Here’s a great game to practice thinking metaphorically – it also works well as a drinking game!
In this video, D.D. Johnston introduces an exercise to prompt writers to consider different types of comparisons: direct metaphor, simile, hyperbole, personification, and conceit. Write along!