Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: metaphor

Figures of Speech ~or~ Figurative Writing ~~or~~ Fun with Words :-)


This post is for Readers and Writers.

Readers because it’s good to know that what you read might be saying more than you think it says.

Writers because it’s always good to know if your figurative language actually says what you intend to say.

Some folks call all words used in non-literal ways Tropes.

And, some tropes are used so often they become Cliches—“phrases that are overused or betray a lack of original thought”.

In just a bit, I’ll direct you to a Site that might be more fun than you imagine—some people have trouble imagining that studying words can be fun :-)

First, I’ll list a few types of non-literal use of words:

Now for some fun

There’s a Site called TV Tropes but it ain’t just about TV.

I’ll let them explain:

“This wiki is a catalog of the tricks of the trade for writing fiction.

“Tropes are devices and conventions that a writer can reasonably rely on as being present in the audience members’ minds and expectations. On the whole, tropes are not clichés. The word clichéd means ‘stereotyped and trite’. In other words, dull and uninteresting. We are not looking for dull and uninteresting entries. We are here to recognize tropes and play with them, not to make fun of them.”

And, they have a page that may have more about the meaning of “trope” than you thought you might want to know :-)

But I do need to quote from that page in order to be fair to the word “trope”:

“Above all, a trope is a convention. It can be a plot trick, a setup, a narrative structure, a character type, a linguistic idiom… you know it when you see it. Tropes are not inherently disruptive to a story; however, when the trope itself becomes intrusive, distracting the viewer rather than serving as shorthand, it has become a cliché.

“On this wiki, ‘trope’ has the even more general meaning of a pattern in storytelling, not only within the media works themselves, but also in related aspects such as the behind-the-scenes aspects of creation, the technical features of a medium, and the fan experience. The idea being that storytelling is not just writing, it is the whole process of creating and telling/showing a story.”

The first drop-down menu on the Site has these categories:

Welcome To TV Tropes
Ask The Tropers
Forum
Trope Repair Shop
Recent Discussions
Latest Reviews
You Know, That Thing Where…
Remember That Show?
Lost And Found
Administrivia
Works That Need A Summary
What Goes Where

I bolded Welcome To TV Tropes because that’s where they explain how to Contribute to the Site as well as how to Customize it for your own style of use.

I’ll leave you with a bit more explanation from the Site—an indication of why it might be fun to visit:

“We are not a stuffy encyclopedic wiki. We’re a buttload more informal. We encourage breezy language and original thought. There Is No Such Thing As Notability, and no citations are needed. If your entry cannot gather any evidence by the Wiki Magic, it will just wither and die….We are also not a wiki for bashing things. Once again, we’re about celebrating fiction, not showing off how snide and sarcastic we can be.”

If you do visit, it would be great to hear what you think in the Comments :-)
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When A Metaphor Turns Real . . .


Writers use metaphors and readers process metaphors. The word means to Transfer Meaning–Rain becomes Mercy, A Politician is the Devil, a Woman personifies the Muse What if a Metaphor wrote a story?

Ardith Goodwin is writing a marvelous story that instills life into a common object. Can you tell what it might be from this beginning of her story?

“For days I had felt the sharp prongs of a rusted, metal rake scratch repeatedly across my back. I felt footstep after footstep land across my head, reminding me with each blow just how deep my face was in the thatch layered dirt. I had been here so long, in this cold, dark place that I was hesitant to believe there was any hope of being found. ”

That excerpt is from the first installment. Ardith is posting the story on a special blog Here’s just a bit from the second installment:

“The moment I was pulled from the confines of that prison I was blinded by a magnificent light dancing across my face. Chunks of dirt still covered most of me, but it didn’t prevent the light from reaching the parts of me that had been in darkness for so many years.”

The blog is called, The Unforgettable Journey of Found Baby. At the end of each short post, you’ll find a link to the “Next Post”.

Take this journey. Read this story written by a real baby doll that was found in March of 2010. Read these words from Ardith:

“Found Baby writes about her everyday adventures, about how she feels, thinks, and the challenges she faces living in a world so obsessed with beauty and perfection. As she adjusts to life out of the ground, she can’t help but recall bits and pieces of her life before she was buried, and those memories are heartbreaking….learn the story about how she was found….She believes there are no coincidences, and you landing on her blog isn’t one either. Welcome, no masks needed………..”

Found Baby is 49 years old–she is Real; yet, Ardith says, “She has…become a metaphor for those who suffer from abuse, who have been outcast because they are ‘different’, who are abandoned or brokenhearted, or who are called ugly.”
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Facing Negative Criticism ~ Is Thinking Like An Artist The Same As Thinking Like A Normal Human?


Our last post, about criticism and using the integrity of the book to defend against negativity, had me saying this:

“At each stage of this process [all the steps of getting feedback on my book] I was of two minds: the merely human writer seeking perspective and the Artist, bearing the Book and feeling its Life and Truth…”

A merely human writer is any writer when they consider things from a conscious, objective, society-oriented perspective.

The Artist is the same writer when they consider things from a deeper-than-conscious, subjective, not-necessarily-society-oriented perspective.

Language is slippery and seems to favor, in most instances, a conscious, objective approach that engages some aspect of developed social structure.

Just comparing my sentences up there about a merely human writer and an Artist, just looking at what I had to do to contrast the two frames of mind is one example of how Language can respond to simple comparisons.

I could have used a more metaphorical approach:

A merely human writer thinks like the Manager of a shop full of creative people.

An Artist is the same writer when they think like a shop full of creative people.

I could take this comparison further into the waters of metaphor:

The merely human writer: “I was riding the waves of criticism, responding with what I had in the boat–signalling flags and lights, carrier pigeons with responses secured to their ankles; and, finally, I had to abandon the boat, floating with the aid of a life-vest but without the aid of my compass and map, now sinking with the boat.”

The Artist: “The sea of criticism broke its waves against the shore of my understanding. I lashed myself to the rocks and bore it all for love of my Muse.”

Just a bit exaggerated, eh? Also, those examples are only me giving voice to my perception of the different ways I handle the thoughts of other people when they share their negative opinions of my writing…

How do you handle negative criticism, how do the merely human and Artist aspects of your nature think and communicate when the waves start to rise?
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