It's time for this tip again!
1. a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.
"“I had fallen through a trapdoor of depression,” said Mark, who was fond of theatrical metaphors"
synonyms: figure of speech, image, trope, analogy, comparison, symbol, word painting/picture
"the profusion of metaphors in her everyday speech has gotten pretty tiresome"
2. a thing regarded as representative or symbolic of something else, especially something abstract.
"the amounts of money being lost by the company were enough to make it a metaphor for an industry that was teetering"
Ah, metaphors, similes, figures of speech! Words and language; great tools of the storyteller. When you listen to great story tellers or spoken-word artists, one of the first things you notice (hear) is the language they are using; the words, the phrases. Their prose is made up of poetic lines that peek the interest of the audience. They spark the imagination of the listeners. They paint pictures that fill the minds of those who want to know, "What happens next?"
How can you find this type of creative language; phrases that make your audience lean forward with their ears perked up like a coyote, listening to the front, side and even to the back?
Here's an exercise that I do with my Community College classes, but one could do it on your own too.
Focus in on ONE object. I start with fruits and vegetables. Let's take an avocado. We usually go around in a circle, with each student taking ONE aspect, using each sense: sight, sound, touch, smell, taste, describe the item using a metaphor or a simile. You can try each one by itself.
Sight: This avocado is as green as the rolling hills of Ireland
Touch: This avocado has the skin of an alligator
Sound: The wind whistles past this avocado, skipping lightly over it's bumps.
Smell: This avocado has the scent of dark green and light green all at once.
Taste: The thrice tastes of the avocado: The outside is rough and bitter; the inside is smooth and creamy; the pit is as hard as my ex-lover's heart!
After you have done this with several different items, focus on your story. Try to use each of the senses (one at a time) in a metaphor or simile to describe a character, a setting or an object in your story.
Jack was as lazy as the hare who took a nap in the middle of the race with the tortoise!
That cow would not give milk! She was as stubborn as an old mule and as dry as the desert could be.
Jack and his mom were so poor that even the rats went to bed without dinner.
The sight of those "magic" beans made Jack's head start spinning like a carnival carousel.
That con man saw Jack coming from a mile away; a brain as small as one of his beans; and a cash cow, money-on-the-hoof.
As jack and the cow neared, kicking up the dry, dusty road, the con man began to salivate with impending glee. That spot on the path became the oasis he had been waiting for.
Etc., etc., and so forth!
I use a thesaurus too, to find other words or phrases to spark a good metaphor!
Try with adjectives too: as tall as, wide, smart, dumb (as a box of rocks), beautiful, fast, creative, silky,, etc.
Use your "image engine": See Jack, staning there, with the cow tethered to himself. What's the image that comes to mind? What does he look like?
STORYTELLING STUDENTS: For extra credit - Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org before 2pm on Thursday Jan 31st with a metaphor or simile about our STORYTELLING CLASS. EX: Our storytelling class is a three ring circus with acrobats, jugglers, trapeze artists and a clown as the ringmaster! Note: You can't use a circus in YOUR metaphor. - Possible five points.