THE ICING ON THE CAKE.
So you have your cake. You’ve tasted many different cakes in your life and you know what a good cake looks and tastes like.
Now say, for example, you’re baking a sponge cake and you’ve just taken it out of the oven. The colour is good; light golden brown, it’s firm yet not hard (cakes with crust are generally a no-no) and the smell is driving you crazy. Still, you don’t tear into it yet because there are just a couple more steps to go. You must let it cool and decorate the top.
Now your sponge cake will need a filling of some kind - jam, lemon flavoured icing - and need only a light dusting or a drizzle of icing sugar for decoration before you’re ready to share and eat. Other cakes, Christmas, birthday, Black Forest Gateau, need icing and fancy decoration before they are finished.
Now, you might ask why has this blog about writing turned into a food journal? But today’s blog is about analogies. My Oxford Dictionary defines analogy as a partial likeness between two things which are compared and we use comparisons in the form of similes, metaphors and personifications to decorate our language.
Figures of speech take something, hair for example, and compare it to another item. The difference between a simile and a metaphor is that a simile uses like or as (her hair was like gold) but a metaphor doesn’t (her hair was gold). The picture we now have of the hair is something bright and shining and, as gold is wealth, we now have an image of a woman with at least one desirable asset.
Our language is peppered with metaphors and similes – you can look up lists of common ones – so when we read that a woman’s hair is like, or has somehow turned into, a block of hard yellow metal hanging off her head – we accept the comparison and create the mental image without any difficulty whatsoever.
Make the wrong comparison and you jar the reader’s flow, for example: her temper was like a cooled volcano.
A personification is when an inanimate object is compared to/given a human characteristic. Eg: The tree stood guard outside the house. Actually, no, it was simply growing there but again an image is created in the reader’s mind. This tree isn’t a weak sapling, it’s tall and imposing with a solid presence.
On the positive side, a figure of speech enhances your writing and enlivens the experience of reading by describing perceptions in fresh, imaginative and significant ways. We often use metaphors and similes to describe our sensory awareness of touch, sight, sound, taste and smell although character and narrative provide the context which make these work. Generally figures of speech don’t function in isolation.
A basic rule for similes, metaphors and personifications is - less is more. Just like icing, too much will make the cake indigestible.
I have four chapters left in strand A to finish and am trying to squeeze in time to investigate social media. More of that when, and if, I ever make any progress.
Haiku Galore is progressing although it feels like I’m married to my novel while having an affair with haiku. I’m slowly approaching a publication date – please watch this space.
the river races
a path of shining ripples –
snow melt has arrived
ROADS TAKEN by M. Joaquim, sold as an ebook at the Amazon Kindle Store, is only available as a free download til tomorrow, Wednesday 17th April. It’s a great first collection of short stories – my advice – download it and give it a read. What have you got to lose? Here's the link: http://www.amazon.co.uk/
For all story lovers out there, I wish you good reading and for those of you who write, good writing.
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