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Greg McVerry

Metaphors Provide Readers a Journey #EDU506

4 min read

When we put pen to paper we invite our audience to join us on a journery  as we line the path with prose. pointring directions with our thoughts and signaliing turns with our transition.

Often we use metaphors as a map to illuminate the way. Why do these metaphors matter so in our writing? How do metaphors, even when mixed, provide a compass to steer readers into safe harbors.

George Lakoff notes that we learn by strengething the relationships in our synapses by relating it to other "circuitry that is already fixed.

Lakoff then went on to describe how color only exist in our interactions with the world and we use this to beautify our world, much like writers do with words. George continues:

"We repurpose the motor system, the visual system, and other embodied systems for thought, these are called primitive schemas."

Metaphors allow authors to tap into a metaphor.

Why Write With Metaphors?

You have learned metaphors long before language. Drawing on this experience makes writing more accessible.

A Ready Made Tool

An easy tool to grab from your toolkit. As a writer we often get stuck with "writers' block?" Except there is no such thing, just a lack of strategies to get started. Reaching in and grabbing a metaphor provides you a way to get started.

A metaphor consist of a source and a target. You aim existing meaning at a different word. If you chose reading and musin for example. You would describe your trageet, reading with the meaning and language of music.

Metaphors Draw in the Audience

Language and learnign are embodied experience. Your audience does not want you to tell them a story, rather show them the journey. If you can take a metaphor and extend it through a blog post or reading reflection you draw on the emotions of the reader. Your words must be truthier if they spark a response.

How to Write with Metaphors

Choose a metaphor. Think about your topic or target. What emotion do you want to spark in your audience. Choose a target.

Make a quick t-chart, and then jot down a few main points about your topic you want to make. Then on the left think about the characteristics about your source and how they relate to your ideas. Bonus points if you jot down a few adjectives or adverbs that express your connotative goals (the emotion you want in reader).

Always make sure your source is appropriate. Too often we use metaphoprs rooted in mysoginy or violence. Business is war is war. It is horrible and using it as a metaphor can be a trigger to veterans and refugees.

Once you have completed your pre writing decide if the metaphor is going to be used just as an introduction or weaved through the entire piece. If you do do just as an intro make sure to do a call back in your conclusion. If you weave it through the entire piece think carefully about your transitions.

How will you move the reader between the characteristics of your source and the points you want to make about the source? In our example of reading and music I might move between a paragraph on harmony and shared stories to scales and phonics with a sentence such as, "As we hear the shared tunes of popular books on the tonuges of readers everywhere we can see how words can be broken down into their scales of meaning" Then the next paragraph I go into phonics.

If all else fails write a poem. Metaphors do the hard work of meaning making in  poems.


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