Metaphors create tension and excitement by producing new connections, and in doing so reveal a truth about the world we had not previously recognized.
As a reader, nothing thrills me more than discovering a fresh metaphor, a wording so unique that I pause and savor it like a decadent dessert. I, however, have much to learn about infusing metaphors into my writings. So…this week’s challenge is really for you—and me.
First, let’s look at what makes a metaphor: As Gabriele Rico explained, metaphors make connections and “reveal a truth…not previously recognized.” Webster’s Dictionary defines a metaphor as “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase literally denoting one kind of object or idea is used in place of another to suggest a likeness or analogy between them.” More simplistically, “The Poetry Archive” gives this definition: “A metaphor takes two things and claims they are the same.” Last of all, most literature texts state that metaphors are comparisons that do not use “like” or “as.”
Here’s a recap on metaphors:
- Reveals a truth, not previously recognized (original idea)
- A figure of speech
- Suggests a likeness between objects
- A comparison of two “things” or nouns and claims they are the same (A = B)
- Does not use “like” or “as”
Now I don’t know about you, but I learn more from examples than definitions; therefore, here are some metaphors:
"Juliet is the sun."
--William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
"Time, you thief"
--Leigh Hunt, "Rondeau"
"Memory is a crazy woman that hoards colored rags and throws away food."
"Life is a zoo in a jungle."
--Peter De Vries
“And love is a homeless guy searching for treasure in the middle of the rain and finding a bag of gold coins and slowly finding out they're all filled with chocolate and even though he's heart broken, he can't complain because he was hungry in the first place.”
--Robert "Bo" Burnham, "Love Is . . .”
“A poet is a nightingale, who sits in darkness and sings to cheer its own solitude with sweet sounds; his auditors are as men entranced by the melody of an unseen musician, who feel that they are moved and softened, yet know not whence or why.”
--Percy Bysshe Shelley
Some metaphors continue through a work, a paragraph, a stanza, or even for an entire poem. These are called extended metaphors.
When Dr. Gregory House (in the TV series House, M.D.) says, "I'm a night owl, Wilson's an early bird. We're different species," he's speaking metaphorically. When Dr. Cuddy replies, "Then move him into his own cage," she's extending House's bird metaphor--which he caps off with the remark, "Who'll clean the droppings from mine?"
--An excerpt from About.com
I stared at the space between us on my bedroom floor and thought about the Berlin wall, which divided Germany for over twenty-five years. There, two parts of a whole were separated by an impervious force, and as the minutes slipped from the day and the distance grew between us, I wondered how long it would take us to tear down the wall and be reunited again.
--Kimberly Blackadar, Nothing but Trouble after Midnight
Place at least one metaphor in your post. Post poetry, prose, a memoir, nonfiction, or an essay.
~Using Shelley’s quote as a springboard, complete the metaphor “A poet/writer is a(n)…” and continue the idea in a poem or prose.
~Write a love poem and use an original metaphor. Avoid comparing love to red roses (Robert Burns), a battlefield (Pat Benatar), or a homeless guy (see above example).
~Build a story around a metaphor.
~Write the next chapter of your book and use a metaphor—one that stains the reader’s memory.
Ideas for Novelists:
If you are interested in writing a novel, then utilize the WWE prompts to help you achieve your goal. With 52 prompts at 500 words each, you could draft a 26,000-word manuscript in one year—just from your WWE posts.
1. Put the following prompt at the beginning or end of your submission, so readers will know what you’re supposed to do.
Wednesday’s Prompt: Place at least one metaphor in your post. Post poetry, prose, a memoir, nonfiction, or an essay.
2. Post to Gather Writing Essential.
3. Tag your submission with WWE.
4. Include (Wednesday Writing Essential) as part of your title.
5. Make your submission(s) by next Tuesday afternoon. Deadline date:
6. There is a limit of three submissions from each member per day. If you’re extremely prolific, spread out your work and post only three submissions per day.
This Week’s Submissions:
Weekly Reminder: Don't forget to recommend an article that you like (to learn why, read Ann Marcaida's article Attract More Writers and Artists to Gather!). Also, try to place a comment on at least one article and say more than you liked the piece. Tell the author what worked and what needs work.
If I missed your response, please let me know: I’ll add it to the list next week. Thanks!
Wednesday’s 2012 Line-Up:
Week #1 – Lists
Week #2 – Word Play
Week #3 – Literary Lingo
Week #4 – Questions, Quotes, & Quandaries
Week #5 – Multimedia