Metaphor Madness

Hello everyone out there! It is I again, here with another self-important post about my least favorite topic–me. So, as some of you may know, I’m in the process of getting my first manuscript published, and I thought I’d share one of the many things I’ve learned from this process. There are many, make no mistake, but one should be enough for now, and it helps to keep this post from turning into a manuscript of its own. What I’ve learned–if the title didn’t tip you off–is that I, as a writer, tend to go crazy with my metaphors. Let me preface this by saying that metaphors, in the right hands, are a wonderful and entertaining tool of a good writer, but in my case, I have a habit of overusing and overdoing them. And when I say I go crazy with them, I mean The Joker mating with Caligula, and maturating their demon offspring in a vat of liquefied Donald Trump, kind of crazy.

Now, I’d like to clarify that for you…but I’m not really sure what I meant, so I’ll just have to leave it up to you to figure out.

That doesn’t mean, however, that all of my metaphors up until this point were bad. Some were, no doubt. Some of my metaphors were–in my opinion–good, but simply misplaced in the narrative.  One example that comes to mind, is the following: “My will was the point of a shiv and it had but one direction to go.” Good, right? Well considering that the character in question was only having a mild disagreement with a friend, the metaphor comes off as overly harsh and…well, murderous. I don’t know about you, but if someone is that willing to win an argument, I’d rather avoid interacting with them altogether.

I’ve always loved metaphors, ever since I was small and would read them in one fantasy novel or another. I was entranced by the idea of saying something by holding it up to something else. The possibilities of it swirled within my young mind like the crushed remains of a galaxy circling the event horizon of a black hole. Granted, that was a simile–metaphor’s 95% genetic clone–and not even a good one, but the principal still holds.

My wife often says that some of my metaphors are the kind that sound pretty but don’t actually mean anything, and it’s those type of metaphors that I try the hardest to identify and weed out. One of our favorites was the time I compared someone’s inhalation of shock to the sound of a vacuum–not a vacuum cleaner mind you, because that would be either disturbingly nightmarish, or gut-bustingly comical–but the vacuum of space. I don’t remember the actual words, but it looked good on paper, until my wife stopped and asked,  “What would that actually sound like?” I had no answer, and quickly realized there was a good reason for that. It was the blind, radioactively-mutated, and blunt-force traumatized lemming of metaphors. it did nothing, and served no purpose other than to run itself off a cliff and die a pointlessly stupid death.

So, the lesson to be learned here–by me, of course–is that if I wish to make my own life as a writer and the life of my editor, easier, I need to trim the fat on my metaphors. It just makes good sense, and it’s the polite thing to do. But more importantly, coming up with  unique and interesting metaphors is skinning a rhino with an emery board. Oh…damn it, that was bad too. Oh, I give up. It’s difficult, all right? Just plain difficult. Good night!

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