16 June 2016
Lovers of fiction read it for various number of reasons – to feel, cry, laugh, to think, enjoy the imagery, to be entertained, to find how who was killed or stayed alive in the end. Whatever reason yours is, most can agree that what makes fiction enjoyable is how it is told.
On writing fiction, the most frequently asked question is ‘how do you set your readers into a story that they are enthralled in?’
You can get there with an exciting plot, use of language, interesting characters. However, what sets your writing uniquely apart from other writings is the use of metaphors.
Metaphors according to the Google dictionary is “a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.”
In Jamaican speculative fiction writer and editor, Nola Hopkinson’s example given in the Ted-ed series, in the description of Bille, the use of metaphors rings very ironic: “Billie’s legs are like noodles. The ends of her hair are poison needles. Her tongue is a bristly sponge and her eyes are bags of bleach.”
The above sounds much more interesting than simply saying “Bille feels nauseous and weak”.
It takes the reader on the many possibilities of what it feels like when one is nauseous and sets the tone right for an implied comparison – Billie’s legs being weak, because noodles aren’t sturdy for a pair of legs.
That’s basically the point of every fiction, telling truths in ways that it seems like a lie. Creating visual mental simulations of the scenery of character. Running us off the wings of imagination, see what I did there? Old trick, I know.
Nola also advised writers to avoid cliches like a plague. There are repeated and over-used forms of expression that we can do without or create in a new way to still paint what we are saying.
Writing about a colour using a phrase like “red as a rose” is one of those cliches. But saying “Jacob saw Annette in her Cherry-stewed dress” as observed in the book Island of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique is unique.
New knowledge? Don’t forget to practice, and also learn not to overuse them, sometimes readers don’t want a superfluous overload.