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Origins of Metaphors
It seems that metaphors connect at a deeper level than dry, logical facts, and help the
reader digest what theyve seen on several levels.
The word Metaphor comes from Greek and means to transfer something. A
metaphor is a figure of speech, a word or phrase, which suggests a likeness between two
objects or ideas that are dissimilar.
Metaphors do not use the words like or as; instead, they suggest a similarity.
Good metaphors help recall information. If you struggle to remember numbers, data or
facts, you can use metaphor to recall what youve forgotten.
Metaphors are very common in everyday speech, (e.g., "Life is a yo-yo. It's a
series of ups and downs") and we tend to overlook their ability to introduce
information in a new way.
Steps to avoid
Jaded writing re-hashed metaphors. Avoid adjusting your material simply to
insert a metaphor in the hope that it will spruce up your article. It will make
your material look stilted and poorly constructed and readers will notice it immediately.
Start during the draft
Develop your metaphors during the initial drafting phases. Once youve finished
your material, examine the metaphor and see if its appropriate.
Delete clichés and check for accuracy. Readers will give you a certain amount of
poetic license, but if you go too far, they will not be impressed.
Be careful that you dont squeeze in new metaphors. If you do this, metaphors will
compete for attention and confuse the reader. Be selective. After reading a good metaphor,
the reader needs time to digest it.
The Metaphor Test
When revising your metaphors, ask yourself, "Have I heard this before?"
Depending on how it fits, decide it's a cliché or adds value.
Finally, metaphors shouldn't overshadow the main message.
If the reader stops to admire them, you've missed the point. Metaphor should support
the content, make it easier to remember, but not eclipse the message.