Metaphorically Speaking


a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance

I've been reading On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner, something I probably should have done months ago, but hey, better late than never.  A specific passage caught my eye this morning and it completely explained why I love reading books by Jonathan Tropper.  (Warning - his books are definitely rated "R" - don't want anyone rushing out to read his work, only to be offended by my recommendation.)

The eloquent Mr. Gardner says,

The writer sensitive to language finds his own metaphors, not simply because he has been taught to avoid cliches but because he enjoys finding an exact and vivid metaphor, one never before thought of, so far as he knows.

I found that as my own story came together and the voice shined through the words, I came to appreciate the occasional metaphors - how Hallie would compare things when explaining how she felt.  Here's a passage from ILYU -

I pulled one of his t-shirts over my head and made my way to the kitchen, the sunlight pouncing on me like a cat through each window, hunting me down to chide at my alcoholic indiscretion the night before.

How many of you enjoy using metaphors?  Do you find them hard to write, or do they come easily?  I thought I'd give people the opportunity to share lines from their WiPs, so if you'd like to, feel free to do so in the comments section.

Also, speaking of works in progress, Suzette Saxton and Bethany Wiggins over at Shooting Stars have a contest going on until the 28th of this month.  The winner receives two first-five page critiques from none other than Suzette and Bethany themselves!  So if you'd like two more pair of eyes to check out your work and give you feedback, head on over there and enter the contest!

Happy Monday!


Anne Gallagher said...

Your metaphor was magical. I'm sorry I don't have one of my own worthy enough to share.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

I love good metaphors - reading them and attempts at writing them! Sounds like a good book. :-)

Lydia Sharp said...

Oooh! This is one of my favorite things about being a writer! Seriously. I'll share one...

From my sci-fi novel, Web, when the MC is being carried away by her bodyguard (for her own good), a guy I refer to as a "human tank" (think big and muscular):

She pounded her fists on Jarus and kicked him. Hard. But it was like trying to crack concrete with a wet noodle.

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Love that one Lydia, and thanks Shannon!=)

Regarding "worthiness", I almost didn't share mine (nervous) but figured that wouldn't be fair!

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

Oh my GOSH you guys, I just realized it was supposed to say INDISCRETION! LOL!!!!!

Anita said...

I remember loving the metaphors in "Grapes of Wrath" that I didn't read until I was an adult.

I don't think I have the "metaphor gift" but, who knows...I've never attempted to write a novel.

Reading your soon-to-be published book filled with metaphors will be a pleasure. :)

Artemis Grey said...

If your book reads like that blurb and metaphor, count me as already standing in line to read it! :)

I LOVE metaphors! All my friends tease me about my constant use of bizarre descriptions. I adore coming up with the most random, yet fitting metaphors. I never say anything the simple, standard way. That'd be waaay too boring.

The Scarlet Letter had great metaphors, much more 'out there' than most books of its time.

Karen Harrington said...

I love metaphors, especially when they are grounded in nature. Those are the best! (And I'm so glad to e-meet someone who likes Jonathan Tropper!)

Elana Johnson said...

I don't mind metaphors, but I want them to be short and make sense. I don't want them in there just so the author can say they have a metaphor or because they're proud of themselves for using it. Which sometimes, I think people do.

Jessica L. Brooks (coffeelvnmom) said...

You're right Elana. But when a metaphor comes to me when I'm not trying to find one, I tend to use it because it sounds more like something the MC would say, IMO.

Sierra Godfrey said...

I really like the metaphors that Anne Tyler uses in her books. But sadly I can't remember any just now! But she is a metaphor queen.

Suzette Saxton said...

I love metaphors as well. I have one character that can use them because they mesh with her personality. Another character, not so much.

Thanks for mentioning our contest!

Suzette Saxton said...

P.S. Love the owls!