13 Dec 2014

Creating metaphors

Metaphor
A language figurative tool giving the object the additional characteristics, often used to reveal hidden features, feelings or emotions. Through a metaphor, an author shows us an object by depicting it and using a connection with something which is not, at first glance, similar. Metaphor is the art of poetry and writing, but also the part of everyday speech, and most of the idioms are metaphors. When a metaphor is used too often that the hidden message is lost, then it is called a dead metaphor and it is advisable not to use it in writing.

It is raining cats and dogs. Idiom and a dead metaphor.
The tv set in this room is an old dinosaur. Easy metaphor.
My soul was a lampless sea and she was the tempest. Hard metaphor.

Extended metaphor: when one idea is used in different perspectives or characteristics in a paragraph, the whole scene or a chapter.
My soul was a lampless sea and she was the tempest. Stormless days were rare, but we loved our boat

Mixed metaphor: when two different ideas are connected to one object creating rather comic effect - avoid it by all costs.
She is a rock in the hot water
She is an iceberg in the hot water.  

Creating metaphors is not an easy task and requires good knowledge of a language: rich vocabulary and grammar, as well as creativity and hard work.

The easiest way to create a metaphor is to remember that we need to link two objects or two ideas, and, therefore, compare them in a not obvious way; furthermore, we do not use connectors: as or like.

She was happy. // She felt like a twinkling star on the midnight firmament at Christmas. This is a simile, easier to create.

She was a twinkling star ion the black firmament, a Christmas star sparkling brightly during the whole year.

Worn out elbows on his work shirt, George has done twelve years of donkey work, toiling for the same factory six days a week, ten hours a day.

George felt as worn out as the elbows on his work shirt.

Katie, a wilting flower in the desert, was longing for the rest of the cooling night in the comfort of her bed.

Katie was longing for the rest of the cooling night in the comfort of her bed, a wilting flower in the basket on the street.

Kate's body was a lifeless desert tired of the ruthless sun and endless customers, dreaming of the cooling night at her own, comfortable bed.

While creating a metaphor, we need to see a picture and show it to the reader, not just describe a scene. Using the convoluted adjectives or adverbs will not help to convey the feelings. Simple way is better and the best teachers are books, which we should read twice, once for the action and then for the understanding how the author used the language and why.

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