Simile of the Day

 The plastic scoop lying in a can of weight-gain powder “like an abandoned beach toy.”

It’s quoted as a positive example in The Art of Fielding of good prose in this otherwise negative review of the book.

Those who effectively deploy metaphor and simile tend to be effective communicators overall.

I sometimes wonder about how one can become better at the art of metaphor…

5 comments on “Simile of the Day
  • That most unholy of books, the Bible, is a very good place to learn something about the art of metaphor, and all literary devices. Here’s an example of metaphor from the misanthropic apostle Peter writing on false teachers that would apply splendidly to that puff piece Vanity Fair ran on The Art of Fielding: “These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever”.

  • Ben, you might like to read Lakoff & Johnson’s “Metaphors We Live By” if you haven’t already.
    http://www.soc.washington.edu/users/brines/lakoff.pdf [pdf]

    There are two things I can think of to improve your metaphor, if we think of metaphor as basically a new perspective. One, etymology. Figuring out where a word comes from, like metaphors, has a way of giving you another lens to see your language through. You make all kinds of connections you never realized were there. Vocabulary is a network. And two, learning another language. All those different phrasings and idioms can be vitamins for your native tongue. I imagine dedicated practice is a third.

    • I agree with practice. I like to make a game out of it during down time like driving or commuting: looking at something and starting with “the crossing guard held up his sign like…” and then start filling in the blank. It’s a good game to do with my kids, too: My third grader has some pretty creative responses. My 15-year-old, not so much (too cool for thinking outside the box).

  • I found that I improved when I stopped self-censoring. We make lots of connections, but we get used to censoring them because we’re afraid they’ll seem like nonsense.

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