Metaphors are mind puzzles. But the fruit of knowledge is hidden within them.

If you tell me he held the pen like a sword I’m left with a few questions:

Did he hold the pen like a sword would hold a pen?

Did he hold the pen in the reverence of a sword.

Did he hold the pen like he would hold a sword?

But if you told me that the pen was his sword- or that he held the pen point out en garde, I can catch a clear meaning.

Metaphor is usually the powerful comparison marker. While it seems weaker to create, our minds absorb that complicated form and make much better sense of it. Far too often I hear of things being like other things, or done as things would be done- and I barely can wrap my head around it.

You do not simplify an analogy by using like or as; you complicate it- you force your reader to step outside of your book and really compare black holes to the drain of your sink. You will have far more success saying that the black hole was the drain of the cosmic sink, pulling in all the chicken in our ship down into the unknown- the pipes of eternity.

In both cases the reader is lost in imagery and far away from your story, but in a metaphor the imagery cannot pull them away, it sucks them in and holds them there allowing the story to go on.

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9 thoughts on “Make Your Sentences Powerful- Misunderstood Writing Advice

  1. Whoa. Now I am going to be a little scared to write for fear of breaking the mighty rules!!! I am really, really bad at using passive voice. And I’m kind of prone to weedy adverbs too. That’s one thing about Japanese – sentence structure is very prescribed (from what I remember). Subject, time, place, object, verb.
    Thank you for writing this article, I think that considering these things will improve my writing.

    1. Write in spite of the rules! It’s good for ya. Poetry is about making the rules work for you anyway. So go get ’em!
      Yeah Japanese can be that way- I remember having trouble writing sentences because they would be too direct, and in my efforts to correct this, not direct enough!

      Thank you as always for reading- I’m glad to be of any help!

  2. This memorable, insightful and quite authoritative article was very much appreciated, like a long walk on a sunny and pleasant autumn afternoon.

    Translation: Good. Me like.

    1. Hahaha

      I’m glad you liked it and said so in such poetic terms! I hope I can keep making content that lives up to this level of expectation for readers like you!

  3. I live by the rule that adverbs are generally redundant or useless if you use the correct verb. I like the rule of using metaphors instead of similes. It drives the action. I might add a rule: In general, if you use more than one preposition consecutively, one of them is redundant and not needed, e.g. “Went out on a limb,” “He came from up under the box,” “He ran out of the room”. These could be said simpler, e.g. “He ran from the room.”

    1. Absolutely right! I would say that a writer needs to think about these things before putting the pen to paper- sometimes those metaphors aren’t the best, other times they make it worth reading.

      It’s subjective, but always something to consider.
      Thanks for the thoughtful comment and for reading! Keep writing, my friend.

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