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Use of simile and metaphor

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 10:53 am
by berry
While re-writing my story I noticed that I don't use simile or metaphor to any noticeable degree in my stories. I was wondering what your opinions were on their use or absence. Are stories without them doomed to be prosaic and generally not engaging?

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 12:39 pm
by Grand Evander
Not at all, Berry. I personally make it a point to avoid similes and metaphors. More often than not, I feel they detract from my writing by making it more abstract, and en masse they create a rather turbid narrative. They can be very powerful if used sparingly, but they can also be poor, ambiguous substitutes for a really good direct description of the situation. Perhaps my feelings stem from one writing teacher in high school who admonished against using more than one simile or metaphor in a piece of prose, but the only writer who's figurative language I've really admired is Nietzsche.

I'm sure others will disagree, but it's an issue I've seriously thought about too.

Posted: Thu Mar 15, 2007 3:57 pm
by aldan
Really, GE, I agree with you... depending upon the writer's own style as well as the type of prose. With poetry, for example, it's basically essential to use such, but in short stories and novels, the use is normally used with restraint as well as with care.

Posted: Sat Mar 17, 2007 12:05 pm
by eleika
I would just say if it feels right, use them; if it doesn't, don't worry about it. There are far more ways for writing to carry readers off than similie and metaphor.

Posted: Wed Mar 21, 2007 6:07 pm
by orena
I tend not to use similes and metaphors, mainly because when I was in school I could never really get my head around how to use them properly.

For the same reason I try to avoid calling things ironic.

Posted: Thu Mar 22, 2007 8:24 am
by berry
I too have been reluctant to use them fearing that they will be superfluous or sound cheesy. However there are some who use it with such fantastic results. For me a god example is the description of a hangover in 'Bonfire of the vanities' or the description of stalking in 'Gormanghast'. In both cases the simile was so much more powerful than the description could have been that I quite envied the ability. As I am not a natural poet I'll stop torturing myself about it.

As for irony, do not ever use the Alanis Morrisette song as an example unless you take the whole song as a list of things that are not ironic. The song then becomes ironic.

Posted: Fri Jun 29, 2007 3:47 pm
by jerico
I agree with eleika

Like any literary device, they have the potential to be over-used or abused. However, when properly used they can be very effective.