Friday, September 4, 2009

Similies, Metaphors, and Analogies

Do you ever get confused between similies, metaphors and analogies? I do. I'm forever saying something is a metaphor when actually it is a simile. So, let's talk about these sometimes confusing elements of writing.

A simile is a kind of comparison between two objects or, often, between a human ( character) and an object. They always use the words "like" or "as." In my novel about AJ, when she first met Lisa, she described her as being "as tall and thin as a popsicle stick." Actually, that was a pretty good simile, even if I do say so myself! It immediately brings to mind a popsicle...and what kid doesn't like them? So the reader already has a good idea of what Lisa looks like, and it doesn't matter too much what her eye and hair color are. So, already I'm ahead of the game, because I don't have to spend a lot of descriptive verbage on Lisa's appearance.

The thing is, a lot of times when we write, we get lazy or we get so engrossed in what we are saying that we resort to the first simile that comes to mind. Very often, that simile has become so overused that it is now considered a cliche, which we most definitely don't want to use. Remember this line, which I think is from a famous poem ( although I don't remember which one): My love is like a red, red rose. Others are: She's fat as a pig; he's dumber than a stump; he's as slow as molasses in January. These are very common similies, and probably ones we all think of, or even use in conversation, all the time. But we don't want to use them in writing, especially for kids. When you decide to use a simile, be creative, make up your own and make sure that your reader will have an image come to mind that s/he can relate to.

Then there is the metaphor. Okay, this is another kind of comparison, but one in which we say the person ( or object) is something that it obviously isn't. How about this: "Her eyes were sapphires in her pale face." Well, now we know that this person does not have "sapphires" for eyes. "That boy is a clumsy ox." No, he may be clumsy, but he is not an ox. Once again, when a metaphor doesn't envoke an understandable image in the reader's mind, it shouldn't be used. Like many similies, metaphors that we are the most familiar with have become cliches, and editors frown upon them. The most important thing to remember, however, is that younger children probably don't have enough mental acuity to really understand them.

Finally, there is the analogy. An analogy is a comparison between two things which are actually entirely different. It is the most difficult to write in such a way that children will understand it, so mostly, we shouldn't ! Analogies can be expressed in different ways, too. One example is: Grass is to green as the sky is to blue. Hmm...would a kid understand this? Another way: The sunrise is like a beautifully wrapped birthday present. It's pretty to look at, but beyond that is something brand new. Okay, maybe you can write a better analogy, and one that kids can relate to. As for me, I think I'll stick to a few similies and metaphors!

No comments:

Post a Comment