Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Metaphorically Speaking

Mack and Chase with the write idea.

Make your writing sizzle.

Metaphors are woven through the English language. New ones add brilliant color; old ones recall threadbare clichés. Even then, they glitter between faded, worn-out words.

Do these phrases jump out at you?
  • She has a special place in my heart.
  • I’m at the height of my career.
  • Education is the gateway to success.
  • He's living in the fast lane.
  • She followed in her mother’s footsteps.
  • A blanket of snow fell last night.
Have you caught the drift of this post? Metaphors lead us to images stacked in our minds. I'm shaping this bunch of metaphors to make a point: black and white words can draw colorful pictures. Just follow the dots . . .
  • First write a black and white sentence: "Jane wrote a boring cookbook that needs something."
  • Now pick a word that needs more color: "boring."
  • "Boring" + color + cookbook theme = stale.
  • Reach into the sentence for another word: "wrote."
  • "Wrote" + color + cookbook theme = baked.
  • Grab one more word: "something."
  • "Something" + color + cookbook theme= shortening.
  • Rewrite the bland sentence using the spicy words: "Jane baked a stale cookbook that needs shortening."
Want to play?

*Homework:

~Scour this post for metaphors—there's at least one in every sentence. Example: "Do any of these phrases jump out at you?" (Although sentences can sound jumpy, words can't really jump.)

~Twist a classic cliché. Examples: "She blew my cover." "You send me." "He puts the ring in my bell." A twist could be, "I'd like a diamond ring in my bell."

~Write a paragraph stuffed with metaphors. Here's the key: a metaphor is a comparison that doesn't use the words like or as. Just super-charging a verb revs up a sentence. Go crazy! (Metaphorically speaking.)


5 comments:

Christie said...

I love metaphors. My favorite is finding out where they came from. Cracks me up.

Kay Dennison said...

Metaphors. hmmmmm These days my life is a mwtaphor for what not to do.

kenju said...

Were you ever a teacher - in school - I mean? If not, you missed your calling.

polly said...

I love my English classes each day! Haven't had time to do any assignments, but I am thinking about each one and how they will help me. Thank you!

Kerith said...

Is there any chance that you'd consider turning your 12 week school days seminar into a blurb book that your readers could purchase online?

(Specifically the readers that didn't quite make it through the entire course, but would love to give it another go. Not naming any names.)

Just a thought. Still reading daily via bloglines.