A blog I follow recently posted an article titled “The Importance of Metaphors”
I read this with interest as the post presented an aspect of the practical and real impact of language when used in a management and leadership context. As in fiction, language is used to set a scene and to create a mood to achieve a goal; to bring a reader to a desired conclusion.
A point Pat Kirwan made in this post is equally valid for the fiction writer and I found it interesting that I have never encountered this point in creative writing courses or discussions. Pat says “Metaphors are embedded in one particular world-view and every world-view, by its very nature, provides a limited and constrained understanding of the world. ” As I read this as a writer of fiction, it struck me that regular use of a type of metaphor can also restrict how a reader percieves a storyline.
Metaphors which come to mind immediately e.g. apple of my eye; raining cats and dogs; heart of gold, are of course, those most often encountered. Descriptive as they may be, the overuse of a metaphor which has become a cliché, does not convey a well concieved image to a reader but rather leaves the impression that an author has run out of originality.
A few carefully selected metaphors placed thoughtfully throughout a piece of writing, are far more effective than the overkill which too many often deliver.