Daily Writing Tip 54 of 100, Understanding Metaphor

For one hundred days, I’m going to post a writing tip each day. I have a whole bookshelf full of writing books and I want to do some reading and increased studying of this valuable resource. This will help me keep track of anything I’ve learned, and help motivate me to keep going. If anyone has a favorite tip of their own to add, contact me. I’d love to put it up here.

Today’s tip – Understanding Metaphor

Source – Writing Life Stories, How To Make Memories Into Memoirs, Ideas Into Essays, And Life Into Literature by Bill Roorbach

Let’s consider some of the many forms metaphor takes before we get back to writing.

Think, for example, about those troublesome analogies on the SAT. You know, X is to Y as XX is to YY.

Here, let’s do one. Fill in the blank: train is to track as airplane is to _____.

Most would say sky.

Each element of an analogy is called an analog. In the above example, train is the analog for airplane, track is the analog for sky. All are comparisons not using like or as, by the way, and certainly metaphorical. And in this example (as in most) magical. No, I mean it: magical.

Think of it: our minds easily and completely accept the idea that dense, heavy bars of extruded steel manufactured by humans are similar to – analogous to – the sky. Which is air.

I love this idea – the concept of all writing as metaphor. It’s true, it really is, and makes things so much simpler. Think of how useless school is. Think of all the times you had to write down the definition of metaphor… of all the times you had to pick out the metaphor in some hoary old chestnut of a text snippet… of all the times you had to write down the difference between a simile and a metaphor.

All that sucks the magic out of writing and reading. There is so much magic sucking going on in school.

It’s no surprise that nobody reads anymore.