HOW TO USE METAPHORS EFFECTIVELY
Metaphors are the other side of the comparison coin. This is any type of comparison that doesn’t use “like” or “as.”
Whenever we use a metaphor, we are fusing two nouns together, forcing one to become representative of the other. It’s remarkable, and it can hand the reader something that he would not have normally received.
Here’s the meat (metaphor) of it. This scene is pleading for metaphors.
He glanced at me, and I trembled.
OK. What point did I want to get across? I wanted you to believe that she loved looking at him. Since the metaphors are missing, you just have to believe me. The writing itself isn’t credible. Perhaps there was some context before this description that would make you believe it. But, as it is, it’s not believable.
Here’s a better example.
His eyes were the blessing of his gaze, and I trembled at his glance.
Now I don’t even have to say that she loved looking at him because it’s implied within the metaphor: “eyes were the blessing.” We see here that his eyes are directly compared to a blessing.
If we simply say, “He was cute,” then we haven’t gotten our point across. HOW CUTE WAS HE!!!!! That’s where the metaphors come in. In the example above, we have two things that are compared: his eyes and a blessing. We know what eyes are, and we know what a blessing is. Whenever we fuse them together, we have a powerful metaphor!
Here’s another example.
His eyes were the daggers of his gaze, and I trembled at his glance.
WOW! The entire meaning has changed! Now the eyes are compared to daggers, and we notice that the man is to be feared. As writers, we have the ability to be word-chemists (metaphor). We can take whatever we like and make it resemble something else! Amazing!
Here’s the important part! Metaphors must NOT be anachronisms. If we are writing a 17th century western, we can’t say, “Old Jim was amped up.” Amped up is a term that came from the era of electricity. Your narrator would not know that reference.
Here’s a list to watch out for:
He was a COILED WIRE (electric age).
The feeling was ELECTRIC (obvious).
His eyes were GLASSY (make sure your society could produce glass).
TURN that noise down (a radio term).
CRANK it out (make sure your culture uses cranks).
Explosive (make sure explosions are known).
Etc. Etc. Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’ll visit tomorrow.