|Metaphors are like pineapples... because... um...|
During a recent writing workshop I picked up some useful advice on creating metaphors to add colour and flavour to your writing.
The thing to avoid with metaphors is clichés like 'raining cats and dogs' or my pet hate is when people 'drown' in each others eyes.
Another problem is when metaphors are mixed in a sentence or paragraph and provide conflicting or confusing comparisons. For example: I could see by her expression she was a crazed dog with a chip on her shoulder. I tried to leave the shop but she drove at me like an angry bull. There are too many different images here that do not organically sit together well. The safest route is to keep metaphors simple, just one comparison for a passage, however, clever writers can continue with a metaphor and keep the flow cohesive. Take this example from English Essential (Mem Fox & Lyn Wilkinson): Writing is a bumpy road, full of obstacles, potholes and loose stones. ...If you can avoid these problem areas your writing stands a better chance of reaching its destination without being wrecked on the way.
In this workshop, we were given the theme friendship and a set of unrelated nouns to compare for a metaphor. For example, you might compare friendship to a diamond, circus, city... or a pineapple. There were some fantastic results, but you'll have to make do with mine today:
Teenie, Becka, Sophie and Jess were 'the bunch'.
"Like a bunch of bananas, you girls are always hanging together," Jess' mum would say.
No. They weren't bananas, they were pineapples. As a group they put forward a hard outer-skin, their spiky exterior, keeping everyone else out. But they enjoyed a sweet delicious secret, with just enough tang to be thrilling.
Try to think outside the cliché square - what else could eyes be like? Diamonds, fireworks, vodka... a bicycle?