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Thread: Metaphors or not?

  1. #1

    Metaphors or not?

    So, I've been writing for a while and wonder.... Is it confusing using metaphors in stories?

    Here is a quick line from one of my stories.

    "Every wall screams his voice every hour of the day, I canít sleep, and I rarely ever eat. Bone chilling howls flood all of my dreams and persist in the cellar all the way out the chimney."

    This is a metaphor about a woman haunted by the memories of her husband's spirit.

    The question is this, are metaphors such as the one above actually needed in stories or do they just weigh the reader down? Or is it a grey area that really isn't touched. I know all the classics used a lot of metaphors. "as each dying ember wrote its ghost upon the floor" - Poe.
    Michael S Bearre

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    University or my little estate
    I think you kind of answered yourself. A beautiful metaphor always always renders the story more true and beautiful. A bad metaphor just weighs it down.

    As with anything in art, some technique done beautifully adds to it,some technique done badly detracts from it.

  3. #3
    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Jun 2007
    Saarburg, Germany
    Call me strange, but I thought that books had to be more than nice words. So, no, metaphors do not weigh readers down.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'‚me ne se vide ŗ ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, ScŤne VII)

  4. #4


    Quote Originally Posted by kiki1982 View Post
    Call me strange, but I thought that books had to be more than nice words. So, no, metaphors do not weigh readers down.
    See that's just it. I compare old stuff like Shakespeare plays, Poe, Alighieri and every other name you can think of and they use metaphors. A lot of contemporary authors I've noticed are more direct. Lack or creativity or pressure to get their book out there before the next guy?
    Michael S Bearre

  5. #5
    Registered User
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    Aug 2011
    Austin, TX
    The whole "never use metaphors or similes" stricture is an artifact of fashionable minimalism. As everyone has said here, metaphors are fine. I think precision and original expression are far more important. For instance, I find the cliche "bone chilling" worrisome not because it's a metaphor, but because it's a cliche.
    Last edited by stuntpickle; 05-09-2012 at 03:20 AM.

  6. #6
    Registered User Delta40's Avatar
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    Dec 2008
    Condescending Wonka
    Blog Entries
    I don't mind metaphors at all in stories. I think the problem arises when they're overused to the point that they don't blend or complement the narrative any longer.
    The Rotten Apple Injures its Neighbour

  7. #7
    Registered User Calidore's Avatar
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    Mar 2011
    If you think of a turn of phrase you like, use it. Even if it's a cliche you like and it works, throw it in. It can always be edited or feedbacked out later.
    You must be the change you wish to see in the world. -- Mahatma Gandhi

  8. #8
    Watching You RicMisc's Avatar
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    Mar 2012
    Somewhere Dutch
    I am personally a big fan of metaphors, if not overused. They make it possible to express yourself in a way that is different and I think a few well-thought metaphors can really lift up a story. As I said though, don't go throwing these things around too much because that will get annoying.

    For example when having to translate/read classical authors their metres and stilistic figures are impressive and very well thought through, but sometimes there are just a bit too much to my taste.
    So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past - The Great Gatsby

    Give every man thine ear, but few thy voice - Polonius (Hamlet)

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