Saturday, February 16, 2008


As I'm polishing my contracted novel in preparation to send in, I'm going through the manuscript, making sure that my analogies and metaphors (two rhetorical devices) are plot and character-specific. When I say character-specific, I'm referring largely to the characters' careers, personalities, interests or hobbies that are predominant through the novel.

By definition in Websters:

Metaphor-a figure of speech in which the context demands that a word or phrase not be taken literally, as the sun is smiling; a comparison which doesn't use like or as.

Analogy-connection between things that are otherwise dissimilar;a conclusion or opinion that if two things are alike in some respects they must be alike in others.

So, for instance, if I have a character whose career is a NAVY fighter pilot, he might think or say things like: "Her words jerked him back like the arresting wire on an aircraft carrier." (an arresting wire is the cable thing that catches the jet, acting as a brake).

If I had a character whose career was a nurse, she (or he, since I love to turn stereotypes on their heads) might think or speak or relate to other characters in medical terms. Example: His smile infused her with strength.

Or if I have a character who is a teacher, she might think in teacherly terms.

If the character's favorite pasttime was fishing...(such as Joel's in A Soldier's Promise) he might introspect things like: Bradley's mouth gaped like the nine pound bass Joel hooked yesterday.

If I'd used that analogy...and fishing wasn't a vital part of the wouldn't make much sense and is a waste. Much better to use plot and character specific analogies.

Remember....the analogies normally use like, but metaphors do not.

Hope this helps.

Have fun analogizing!

Cheryl Wyatt


Hope Chastain said...

Thanks! When I do the read-through on my novel (after I finish, hopefully in another 2 or 3 chapters), I'll make a few job-related analogies. With the characters' professions, this ought to be fun!

Susan Stitch said...

Thanks for this instruction. As a new writer it is really helpful to understand how to evaluate (and plan!)the speaking patterns of my characters.