I assume that if you are visiting this site, you are a writer and already familiar with the concept of metaphor, so I will give only a brief overview.
Metaphor is a literary device that creates an image by showing the similarity between one reality and another. It is an effective tool to enrich the readers’ involvement in your story by allowing them to experience an emotion or idea through sensory description.
Here’s an example from my novel, “The Sin of His Father.” In this scene, the protagonist, Matt, has just spent the night at his mother’s deathbed. Shortly before she dies, she confesses that she has lied to him. The father who he never knew did not abandon them, rather Matt was conceived in an act of rape.
Overwhelmed by grief and anger, Matt steps outside the nursing facility to catch a breath of fresh air and smoke his pipe. This is how I decribe his emotions:
One of the birds interrupted breakfast to stare at Matt—Matt would have sworn it was so—and his skin tingled at the thought of stories his mother used to tell him of dead people coming back as black birds. Beside the predator, strewn feathers told of a smaller bird that had lost its struggle to keep on living. Matt’s grief came pouring out. That it was because of a fragile creature stunned him at first before he recognized the similitude. Like the wren, his mother fought her whole life for food and survival. She’d known a dark monster, too. Not one that would destroy her suddenly, mercifully, but one that most likely haunted every moment of her adult life. One that tore her down from the inside-out and in the end defeated her.
What I’d like to discuss today, though, is how to develop metaphor. This morning during my “quiet time” I was reminded to look at life, at people, at things, by becoming aware–by seeing the world around me in the essence of their core nature. I had the idea to start a file of metaphors and this will be my first entry: when I walked the dogs I was accompanied by the mournful cooing of doves, the sound of the place within us that is waiting for something more…a metaphor, perhaps for loneliness or emptiness. Are any of you doing this or something similar?
Another blogger, ketch 1714, shared this description:
The eight, creepy eyes of a spider stared into my soul as it crawled along the wall. As small as the creature is, my spine tingles. I could feel its hairy legs bush against my skin. Its fangs on my neck as the venom dripped over my flesh. I was bound in its web by the mere sight of it, waiting for the cold breath of death.
How would you use that as a metaphor? What experience does this image evoke?