Write Vivid Narration: Bring Action, Setting, and Mood to Life | Barbara Vance | Skillshare

Write Vivid Narration: Bring Action, Setting, and Mood to Life

Barbara Vance, Author, Illustrator

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11 Lessons (1h 4m)
    • 1. 1 Introduction to Simile and Metaphor

    • 2. 2 Simile vs Metaphor, When to Use Which?

    • 3. 3 Benefits of Figurative Language

    • 4. 4 Brainstorming Figurative Images

    • 5. 5 Character, Tone, and Emotion Through Imagery

    • 6. 6 Metaphor Variety and Parts of Speech

    • 7. 7 Extended and Implied Metaphor

    • 8. 8 Sensory Variety

    • 9. 9 Considering Your Audience

    • 10. 10 Avoiding Common Mistakes

    • 11. 11 Class Exercise and Final Thoughts

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About This Class

Strong imagery can greatly enhance one’s writing. Whether you are writing fiction, non-fiction, poetry, creative nonfiction . . . imparting powerful word pictures and associations helps readers better understand and connect with the characters and situations you are describing.

This class is specifically designed to help you brainstorm and write strong, unique metaphors and similes that will bring beauty and power to your work. We will look at:

  1. Why use Simile and Metaphor
  2. How to use Simile and Metaphor
  3. Creating strong characters through imagery
  4. Crafting imagery specifically in the context of the narrative
  5. Writing the best images for your specific audience
  6. How to devise truly unique images
  7. Parts of speech simile and metaphor can take
  8. Types of metaphor
  9. Metaphor accessibility
  10. Common mistakes to avoid

 The class project will help you learn to build your image-making muscles and can be adapted for use in your own narratives.


1. 1 Introduction to Simile and Metaphor: Hello. Welcome to this course on using similes and metaphors in your creative writing. My name is Barbara Lenz. I'm an instructor of creative writing, storytelling and media. I've had the great fortune to work with a lot of very talented individuals on their writing projects, be those screenplays, novels, short stories, personal essays, poetry, you name it. I've worked with a lot of people and it is my pleasure to bring this class to you today. Similes and metaphors are two of the primary forms of figurative language that can really give your creative writing and your writing in general a significant lift, creativity, and help to elucidate and ignite the imagination of your readers. It is a very unique way to get your ideas across, and to also add an extra vision to your own ideas. It's a magnificent tool to use. But we want to make sure that we're using it the right way because this is something that actually can be overused or misused. When it is, it can just be damaging for a story that is otherwise going along quite well. For the purposes of this class, we are going to be looking at simile and metaphor in general. I would say this is a great course for anyone interested in writing at all, whether you want business writing or creative writing because similes and metaphors can be used across all of those. But we will be focusing towards the end on a narrative form of simile and metaphor. This is not a poetry class specifically, while what we discuss here is certainly applicable to poetry. But I want us to look at specifically similes and metaphors as it pertains to a narrative, a novel, a screenplay or something like that. Because when we consider the story itself and the environment in which we are putting that simile or metaphor that can actually change what figurative language we choose to use, as well as when we choose to use it and how often. You don't want to ever just think about something like simile metaphor or something without the context in which you're putting it. We're going to be making sure to keep it on that narrative focus. Similes and metaphors are something that we actually use all the time in our day to day language. We might eat something hot and we say my mouth is on fire. The mouth is not really on fire. But you're saying it. It's this figurative language because it speaks so much more than just saying, my mouth is really, really, really, really, really hot. It's just so hot. That doesn't say to me, but say, "My mouth is on fire." That says something or my mouth feels like it's on fire. Because we have associations with which we think about fire and that not only helps really drive home in a creative way, what you are feeling, but it's this picture. It's a language picture that enriches the experience you're going through. We're going to be looking at several aspects of simile and metaphor. I want us to define what those are, how they are different, and why might you use one over another? Because they're both great, but it's good to appreciate what those nuances are, aside from just the basic uses of the words itself. We're going to be looking at defining simile and metaphor, examining why should we use them? How should we use them? When should we use them? How frequently should we use them? We're going to talk about the best ways to brainstorm similes and metaphors. We will also look at that contextualization within your narrative, and we will also address common mistakes that happen. Things that you can a void that a lot of people don't. It's a very comprehensive look at to very seemingly small things. But there's so much that we can say about them. At the end of this class, we do have a class assignment that is designed to help you specifically use simile and metaphor in your narratives. There are some exercises designed to help you get in the practice of writing and conceiving of figurative language pictures. This is something that is a muscle. If you feel like you are not good at coming up with language pictures, if that's something that you feel you struggle with, that's all right. Because it's just like lifting weights at the gym or something like that. The more you do it, the better at it you will be. The exciting thing is that as you get into the practice of doing this, you will start to just have figurative language ideas all of the time. You will find that even in your day to day language, et cetera, you will be coming up with comparisons and figurative language pictures to elucidate the things that you have to say. If that's of interest to you, stick around and we will get into what exactly is a simile and a metaphor, and why are those differences important? 2. 2 Simile vs Metaphor, When to Use Which?: Let's begin with similes. A simile is a comparison of two things using words such as like or as, as if, something like that. We are going to take two things that we see have a similarity, even if that similarity is not immediately obvious to somebody else. I might say that my day was like an apple, and you might be thinking to yourself, how is a day like an apple? It might not be obvious to you, the reader, but to me, the writer, I see a similarity between a day and an apple, and so I can say my day was like an apple. Which I would then probably want to go on and tell you a bit more about why I think that. But a simile is using those likes, or as. I'm not saying, my day was an apple, I'm saying my day was like an apple because I'm not making that assertion that my day was an apple. A simile is therefore a softer kind of comparison. Another example would be to say something like, it was as if his heart was walking in the rain without an umbrella. So what are we examining here? We are examining his heart and we're going to say that it was like his heart was walking in the rain without an umbrella. We have to look as a reader at that phrase, in the rain without an umbrella and say, well, what's it like to walk in the rain without an umbrella? This is where the idea of contextualization comes into play, which we will get into later in the course. But if all you gave me was that sentence, then as a reader, I might love to walk in the rain without an umbrella or I might think walking in the rain without an umbrella is droopy and it's wet and it's cold and it's damp and it's not a good thing at all. But the point of what's happening is that that image of walking in the rain without an umbrella is so tremendously vivid. Let's pretend, for the sake of the story, that we know this young man is very depressed, and so we know that he's saying, walking in the rain without an umbrella is actually a bad thing. But rather than saying his heart was broken, rather than saying he was very sad or anything like that, we've given the reader this beautiful picture of walking in the rain without an umbrella. When you think about walking in the rain, what do you think? If it's starting to rain and you're walking, the more the water saturate your clothing, the heavier you feel. There's a way in which using the sentence is saying that not only was his heart heavy, it was getting heavier. It wasn't getting better. It was getting worse, it was getting wetter, and damper, and more weighty to have to carry around. Think about these things when you think about your word pictures. What about metaphor? Well, metaphor is using that same kind of comparison without the likes or the as, it's asserted. Rather than saying it was like his heart was walking in the rain without an umbrella, you're saying his heart was walking in the rain without an umbrella. Now, notice something here, of course his heart was not literally walking in the rain without an umbrella, but we're saying that his heart was doing that. That kind of assertiveness doesn't give you much wiggle room with the comparison. When we say it was like that, that's my way of saying, well, it was like that, maybe not exactly like that, but it was like that. But when we say, he was walking in the rain without an umbrella, you're saying that's how it was. If you eat something hot and your mouth is just burning up, you might say, it was like my mouth was on fire. But probably what you're going to say to your friend is, my mouth is on fire. You know how your mouth feels, your mouth is on fire. It's this assertiveness that doesn't have the wiggle room, it packs a sincere punch to its writing and really presses that figurative language into the face of the reader. This in turn makes metaphor the more symbolic of the two types of figurative language because it is so direct. When we think of a symbol, we think of something that stands in, that represents something else. It's not saying I'm sort of kind of representing this, it's saying I'm representing this. Whether we say that the rose in the picture represented love or something like that, we're not going to say, well, the rose in the picture represented something like love, no, we're saying rose represented love, so there's a symbolism that happens. When you're looking at your narratives and you're thinking about symbolism, metaphor is more than likely what's going to come to mind. Let's look at one more comparison. She gripped him as though welded to his arm, and they walked to the door. Here we have a situation in which this woman is clinging very tightly to a man's arm, and then they're going to go somewhere. We don't know whether they're going in or whether they're going out, but we know that she's got a locked arm grip on him. This isn't even just a tight grip, we're saying she gripped him as though welded to his arm. This is like, can't remove this woman, she is there, welded, fused to this man's arm. Which really tells you how tightly and how, "I'm not going anywhere", she is stuck to him. Let's look at that same sentence as a metaphor. Whereas with a simile, what we were saying was she gripped him as though welded to his arm and they walked to the door. In metaphor, we might say, they maneuvered toward the door, welded at the arm. Here again, they're not literally welded at the arm, but we're taking that verb and then we're just saying they were welded at the arm, we know they're not. But do you see how the second one is actually just tighter, fewer words, more succinct, and it's just very assertive. That doesn't mean metaphor is better than simile. It just means that as you're thinking about your writing, think about the power you want behind the statement and how much you want to tell the reader, no, it's like this, as opposed to in the invitation of the reader to say, well, it's like this, but you think about it and interpret it for yourself. In the next video, we're going to look at specifically why would you even use figurative language in your writing? 3. 3 Benefits of Figurative Language: There are three really great reasons why figurative language is an excellent tool for writing, in particular for narratives. The first being that it challenges your reader. It gives new life to your sentences. You're giving new meaning to a phrase and you're asking the readers to consider that new meaning. It's a very creative way to require some mental leverage from your readers. This is actually a very important point to make because one of the decisions you have as a writer is to ask yourself, how much do I really want to press the reader to invest himself, invest herself to put forward some mental energy? I don't mean this in any silly way. It's actually a very legitimate statement. Some forms of art, some forms of writing, some books we write, some novels we do, are more either accessible or easier to read or actually more challenging to read than others. This happens for a number of reasons, whether it's the complexity of the plot or the level of the technical aspects of it. If you've ever read novel in which there are a lot of technical things you have to keep track of, or the geographies and locations you have to keep track of. A novel like that is going to require more energy. Novels with very complex sentence structures and larger words require more energy from the reader. This would also be true in the term of similes and metaphors. Even to the extent of how obvious you're similes or metaphors are. So when you use this figurative language, it's an opportunity not only to really create a word picture and say to your readers, let's take a pause, and let you shift your seat and think about something in a new way, but it's also saying, well, think about it. If you're going to tell you a reader, I want you to think about this in a new way. I want you to think about what it's like for your heart to be walking in the rain. A reader has to stop, and a reader who's active has to put a pause on things and say, well, what's it like to walk in the rain? And think about that. Now, does that mean that at every simile and metaphor and you're writing, the reader's going to be like, whoa. Let me think about that. No, they're not, but they will at certain places here or there, and some readers we'll do it more than others. So it's a layer of depth of complexity that you're putting into your writing. If you do it properly, then you're writing is such that you have these various layers to it, and different readers at different levels can appreciate different depths of it. By that I mean, I might read an article, or a novel that has a lot of science in it. They're referencing a lot of scientific things, and the author has done a lot of scientific research behind it, so that someone who's in the sciences could read that and think this is an amazing science fiction novel, because while it's science fiction. It's actually based on all these really interesting things that are totally legitimate in science and they're going to be very impressed because of that. I, who I'm not great at science, might read that novel and say, this is a great plot. This is a great science fiction story. I'm having such a lovely time and I appreciate it, but I don't if you know what I mean, because I don't actually know all the science behind it. The author built in these levels and said, well, someone who appreciates science is going to appreciate it down here. Someone who doesn't, isn't. Maybe the scientist person isn't going to necessarily grab and appreciate the levels of the figurative language, but I, who have read a lot of literature and work with people, I'm going to go, oh wow, the figurative language is, so you built in layers of depth. What those layers do is they let a large audience come to your story and find the layers that fit for them. Then even as they go back and they maybe reread it a second time, they go deeper into the layers. So figurative languages is a layer you are building in, that lets readers be challenged, be creative, be involved in your story. The second great thing about figurative language is that it actually lets you very uniquely describe something using far fewer words. So let's go back to the example of your heart walking in the rain. If I say, "It's like his heart was walking in the rain." What I don't have to say is he had a very heavy heart and with every step that he took, it felt as though his heart got heavier still, and we could go on and on and on about all the ways that walking in the rain could be like that, but even that, it was so much wordier. But when you just say it was like his heart was walking in the rain, what have you done? You've used far fewer words, a beautiful picture to convey this much meaning, rather than this many words to convey this much meaning. If you watch my other videos then you've heard me perhaps say before, think of the comparison of a lady's high-heeled shoe. If I'm standing in heels, they're four-inch high heels, but they've got a very broad heal itself. Then if I step on your toe width that, it might hurt a little bit, but if I stand in my four-inch heels with that very tiny little heel, you're taking the same amount of my weight and rather than distributing it over this much surface area, were distributed over this much surface area, which means all of that weight is packing a very hard little punch. This is what happens when we think about word choice or something like this. Taking all this meaning, but you're packing it into a tiny beautiful word picture punch rather than a lot of excessive words. Simile and metaphor, if you're careful, can give your writing great power. The third thing that really can be great about similes and metaphors and figurative language in general, is that you let your reader bring his or her own experiences to something. To give back to the walking in the rain, I might have different associations with walking in the rain, but I might actually have experiences with that, and because I might not have had my heart broken like this young man, but I might very well have walked in the rain. So it's this way of really bringing something that's quite physical and sensory in my own life to the work itself, which allows me to connect with the work in a way that I might not otherwise. So when we use figurative language, we're not only providing great power to our writing, but we are inviting the reader into a deeper relationship with our story than we otherwise could. In the next video, I want us to look at how we go about actually brainstorming, what things we could make into similes and metaphors. What are these comparisons that we could have? How do we find them? How do we come up with good ones? 4. 4 Brainstorming Figurative Images: A few pieces of advice when it comes to brainstorming similes and metaphors. As I referenced in the introduction to the course. This is a muscle. If you feel like this is not your strong suit, do not fear. It takes practice, and you'll need to practice. But you can absolutely become somebody who just starts to see associations in life and in things. My first recommendation is that as you start to think about some of these metaphors, if one comes to your head that you love, go ahead and write it down, but don't be married to it. Sometimes a writer gets very in love with a simile or metaphor or something like that and they just have to work it into their writing. Because they think it's such a wonderful word picture. It might very well be, but it might not be the best one for the writing that you're doing. What you don't want to do is take figurative language picture no matter how much you love it, no matter how good it is and force it into your writing because it won't make it more powerful and it will weaken everything else. Always be ready to let something go and recognize, even though it's a good picture, it might not be best suited for the project you're working on. My second piece of advice is, as you think about figurative language pictures, don't necessarily go with your first idea. Most writers, when they're writing, are not necessarily going to sit down and go, ''Okay, here it is. Time for a simile, let me brainstorm a simile." It's not going to happen. It's sort of going to start to come out in your writing. But what will get you to a place where as you write these word pictures are just kind of coming out, is actively taking time to practice brainstorming them even as you're writing, a similar metaphor might roll itself out. But there's also a decent chance that would ever does come out. Isn't the best simile or metaphor. It just felt like a good comparison at the time. The truth is that a lot of the figurative language pictures that we initially come up with aren't terribly original. We will have original things sometimes, but very often for things that have been used before or they're very similar to things that have been used before. If you find yourself thinking about a simile or metaphor, or if you're reviewing your writing or editing it or something like that. You find a figurative language picture. Take a moment to think about other pictures, other figurative language comparisons you might make. Because those first ones, generally, there might have been used before. But the more you dig, the more you force yourself to come up with new ones, something different, the more you'll find something truly, truly unique. It's a great exercise to just say something like, "How is the assignment like an apple tree?" Think about the many ways that it could be or to do an exercise where you say the sun was like and your first things might be the sun was like an orange or the sun was like a bright orange beach ball or something like that. But the more you practice, make yourself missed 50. After a while, you're going to have to sit there and you're going to be like, well, I don't know what else is the sun like it's like an orange it's like a beach ball. You might find suddenly that you're not making comparisons to the sun and circular things anymore. Now you're making comparisons of the sun to feelings, to thoughts, to ideas. The sun was like a revelation, but even that maybe not so original, right? Because a revelation is like a bright light bulb coming on. Maybe the sun is like something else. Maybe the sun is like a cup of coffee in the afternoon. How could the sun be like a cup of coffee? Because it's bright cloud picks you up, it wakes you up. What's it like? When you brainstorm and when you're trying to become good at this, don't just go with your first one. Make yourself go deep to find those really meaty, really valuable, truly creative and true to you figurative language pictures. My second piece of advice when you're brainstorming these is to think about things that can exist on various levels. To go back to what I was saying one of our earlier videos, it's wonderful to have depth to the pictures that you make. One of the great examples of this actually comes from the Christian New Testament, in which Jesus refers to himself as the good shepherd. Now someone who doesn't know much about biblical history or shepherding or anything else can appreciate that analogy if they simply know what a shepherd is. Because they can say, yes, I understand that Jesus is saying that he is sort of leading his flock. He's the guide of the flop. But someone who understands what shepherding is a little bit more, he's going to get more out of that analogy. Because he's going to understand things like, well, sheep aren't the brightest animals on the planet there really not terribly bright. In some ways Jesus kind of saying that He's not saying, "Look, I'm the guide over all of these really smart people." Jesus isn't saying, "I'm the professor of the class of valedictorians." A professor leads a class. But these are all really bright people or whatnot. He's leading a class is different than shepherding. When you say I'm a shepherd of sheep, You're saying these little sheep really need a guide. They can't do it on their own. They're not the brightest bulbs they need you. It's not like they maybe want you as a guide. They need you for survival. They have to have you so to say I'm the good shepherd is to say I'm Caralyn, I'm leading, I'm responsible for the lives of these animals that absolutely need me. To say, I'm the good shepherd. I'm the owner of the flock. Someone's going to appreciate on that level that There were shepherds in who if they were their sheep and then they were shepherds that were hired. If you're a hired hand shepherd and your sheep gets sort of carried off by a lion or something, you're less likely to go after that sheep, then you would be if it wasn't packed your sheep. I could go on. But that metaphor holds up so much in literature because of the many, many ways that it has depth. Think about, as you think about true metaphors, the variety. Think about ones that are going to let people appreciate it on a variety of levels. In our next video, we're going to look at how you actually use simile and metaphor in your writing. 5. 5 Character, Tone, and Emotion Through Imagery: There are many aspects of simile and metaphor that we want to consider. For the purposes of this class, I would like us to look at four things, all of which have subcategory. But what we want to look at with the similes and metaphors we have are, what are the substantive outcomes of using it? What happens because we used that? We also want to look at the parts of speech that similes and metaphors can be, the types of similes and metaphors you can use, and how to actually have variety with the similes and metaphors you create. Lets begin with just looking at the outcomes. What things can come of using figurative language like this in your writing. They can reveal character, establish tone, and convey emotions. They do many things, but I want us to look at these three. Let's begin with revealing character. It's important to remember point of view when you're considering your story. When you put a simile or metaphor in your writing, you are saying something not only about the object of observation, but about the observer. If your metaphor is saying something about Sally, you are also there for saying something about the narrative itself. If that's a first person, then that's another character in your story. If it's you as a writer working in third person perspective, you are still saying something about you as the author. Really consider, when you're talking about similes and metaphors, what I'm I revealing about both of my characters? Let's look at an example. Sandra's heart gave a pinch. Her mother's face was so intent. Her intentions so sincere and unaware of the weight they caused, and they're in the bright light, bundled in her garish pink sweater. Sandra could not help but see her as one of her cupcakes, bright, sweet, but admittedly too much after one or two bites. The thought shamed her. Let's go back and look at that. This is a lengthy, lengthy simile, and that's okay. A simile or metaphor doesn't have to be. His face was an orange. His heart was like walking in the rain. It can extend itself. But let's look at how much we learn about Sandra and her mother from this comparison. Let's go back. Sandra's heart gave a pinch. We know right away is that something is hurting her. Some things inside that makes her feel a squeeze of pain. Her mother's face was so intent, her intentions, so sincere and unaware of the weight they caused. Now we're observing we began with what Sandra is feeling. She is feeling badge, she is feeling ache, and ache inside. But now we're observing her mother, and we're looking at her mother's face. Her mother is focused. Her mother is clearly coming from a good place, of her caring place. But also from somewhat of an oblivious place. But again, we have to think about perspective. We can't as readers in this situation, say her mother's oblivious. Her mother might very well be. What we can say from this is it, Sandra believes her mother is oblivious, and Sandra believes her mother's face is intent. This is all coming from Sandra's perspective. Anything we learned about Sandra's mother in the context of this comparison is actually we're learning about Sandra. Just from this bit that we've gone back over, Sandra is hurting, she's looking at her mother, she thinks her mother is oblivious, but really caring is the perspective that we're getting. We get the sense that Sandra cares for her mother. But it's a somewhat demeaning way of talking about a mother. It's just well, she's oblivious and what not that that language and that looking at it is there's a little bit of a sense of superiority coming from Sandra. Now we get the sense that Sandra pity her mother here. But we don't know exactly. We know that Sandra is aching over something, but we're not quite sure what. Let's go on. There in the bright light, bundled in her garish pink sweater. Sandra could not help but see her as one of her cupcakes. Bright, sweet, but admittedly too much after one or two bytes. Now, in the context of this sentence, having just read it without any narrative surrounding to it that I've given you. This sentence could read like the cupcakes are Sandra cupcakes. Or the cupcakes are her mother's cupcakes. You could read that either way. Let's for the sake of the fact just for the sake of here, say that her mother likes to bake and her mother makes these cupcakes. There's a sense in which Sandra's now described her mother as sincere and focusing, caring, but oblivious. Then she's put her mother into this pink sweater. It's not just any pink sweater. It's a garish pink sweater. This is even more, somewhat demeaning and pitying. It's not a respectful, it's a pitying. When we think about people, we can pity someone, we can sympathize, we can empathize, get pity. The pity comes with a demeaning aspect to it. Her mother, she's garish pink sweater and Sandra can't help but see your mother as one of her mother's cupcakes. We're imagining this woman now, really intent, bundled into this bright pink sweater. You can imagine that her cupcakes, a cheery and light, bright and colorful cupcakes. Because she's looking at her mother. It's not like she said, Oh, her mother's eyes were large and she thought of her cupcakes, no. She saw the pink garish sweater and thought of a mother's cupcakes, which tells us that Sandra thinks her mother's cupcakes are bright and maybe not the most beautiful things. Even if she thinks her most cupcakes are lovely, the sweater, it says something about how she thinks of her mother and her mother's attire and everything else. But then she adds this comment, sweet, but a bit much after two boys. We've really created actually a very fleshed out picture of what Sandra thinks that a mother. She thinks her mother has good intentions shooting similar as sweet, but she thinks from others a little bit stupid, can't dress well and makes food that isn't that great after too much, so overpowering. She thinks her mother's overpowering. She thinks her mother's affection and care and intent is way too much. Now imagine trying to say all of that in text rather than just saying what we've said here. Now the final sentence is so important. The thought shamed her. Right there in all that we've just said where Sandra seems condescending towards her mother. We see Sandra feel ashamed that she feels that. Sandra becomes redeemed to us a little bit. Because up to that point we might think Sandra is a bit stuck up in a bit snobby and she might very well be. But at the very least, Sandra realizes, I'm so a shame that I feel this way about my mother, is essentially is embarrassed of her mother. There's just a sense that she recognizes the demeaning this of it. She's just a shame of feeling that way. But it's also acknowledgment that that is how she feels. Do you see how that word picture that we've gone over, which extends over sentences? But this, this bubble is experience of the figurative language tells us a lot about Sandra's mother, but even more about Sandra. In fact, everything it tells us about Sandra's mother is through the Sandra lens. We're always actually learning more about Sandra than her mother because of the perspective of the writing. You want to think about this when you're considering your similes and your metaphors. Don't write similes and metaphors that are just things you've come up with for you. Remember your contextualizing this figurative language in your narrative. So don't say, well, I think the sun is like an orange. Say, what does my protagonist think it's like? Sandra eat no mother's cupcakes. So that for her is a figurative language picture. Your protagonist might be a soldier on the front lines and he is not going to think of cupcakes. Consider your characters and say, what? Not only is this word picture going to reveal in this comparison of say, Sandra and her mother. But what it's saying about the character itself. Know that if you're writing a novel in which it is an omniscient author who doesn't have a technical character in the story, you're still making a commentary about yourself. Consider that and consider how you are fleshing character out with your figurative language. Second thing that's similes metaphors can do is establish tone. We see that even in the example we just gave with a tone is a condescending one, but it's also a guilty one. There is a sense that we are feeling the conflict in Sandra. But you can use simile and metaphor to establish the darkness of a setting. How gritty is the scene, the house was like whatever something dark and foreboding, or maybe it's something bright and cheerful. But it's not just the associations you use it, the words themselves that will help you make those analogies. When you're thinking about establishing a setting or a tone or a field to your story that can be a great place to interject some figurative language. Because again, it can say so much in just a few words. The final thing is just conveying emotion, which goes back in many ways to what we were saying about character. It's this feeling that you have about something, but they are actually separate things. Those are all three very good questions to ask yourself when you're doing your writing is, what does this word picture say about my characters? What does this word picture establish in tone? What does this word picture convey about emotion? If you can devise word pictures that do all three of those things. If your figurative language can punch all three of those out, that can be a very solid piece of literature, literary worth. It might not do all three of those things. But often, if you choose the right word picture, it will. Just as when we say walking in the rain, that conveys something about his emotion, that tells us something about his feelings and who he is. That tells us something about the tone of what's going on. So really think about how is my word picture doing all of those things? Is this the best word picture to do all of those things? In the next video, I want us to look at all the different parts of speech that similes or a metaphor can be. 6. 6 Metaphor Variety and Parts of Speech: Very often, we find ourselves limiting simile and metaphor to the few forms that we learned when we were back in grade school. But the truth is that we can be using them in a variety of ways. It can be that we use it as a verb, it could be a noun to noun comparison, it could be a modifier, or it could be a prepositional phrase. I would like for us just to briefly take an example of each of these so that you understand all the variety of ways that you can put figurative language into your writing. Let's look at the first; using a simile or metaphor as a verb. "His word cut her spirit, and she began to cry". Here we have "his words" acting as a knife, but we're not saying, his words were a knife that cut her spirit. We could have said that, but we didn't have to. We could just say, "His words cut her spirit, and she began to cry." We have made the association an actual verb, it's the action cut. If we had said, "His words were a knife that cut her spirits," then what we're doing is we're comparing his words, nouns, to another noun, a knife. Then the knife happens to have an action. But by removing what we're actually saying, his words are, by removing the knife or whatever other means by which you might cut something and just saying, his words cut her spirit, we're turning that figurative language into a verb. What that does is it actually places the emphasis of the association you are making onto the verb, the action rather than onto the object. If we said, "His words were a knife that cut her spirit," then I'm making the association of words and a knife. I'm saying, well what does a knife do? Well, it cuts. But when I, no pun intended cut to the chase and I say, "His words cut," then it doesn't necessarily matter if it's with a knife or a sword, or a saw or a pizza roller. It doesn't matter. What matters is what it did, the word "cut". Of course, they didn't literally cut her spirit, but we are using them in that way. Using these things as a verb is so action-oriented. It allows the novel to really keep going, keep pressing forward as opposed to if we were doing a comparison where it's a noun to a noun or something like that. What happens is when you're saying, "His words were like a knife" or something like that, it slows it down because you're doing noun to noun. When you say, "His words cut," we're keeping the action moving forward. It's more of a pressing the narrative forward, forward focused, action focused way to have a comparison. Let's look at the next example. I love this next one. It's just a very creative sentence structure and I believe firmly that a variety in your sentence structures adds great power and beauty to your writing. Using it as a modifier is a wonderful way to bring figurative language into your writing without having, "His heart wasn't this, it was like a this", which can be the standard form we think of when we think of similes and metaphors. For this example, you will see, "Beside her bed was the ring, a swirling planet in a galaxy of stars". The main sentence there is "beside her bed was the ring". In that, we don't have the figurative language. But then it's a modifier that the figurative language picture comes after and modifies the noun of the main sentence, a swirling planet in a galaxy of stars. When you read that, you get the sense that whatever the ring is, the central stone, presumably in the narrative you would know, but you have to say, what jewels or what sorts of rings have something in it that's swirling maybe, or maybe it's not. Maybe it is a jewel and the swirling is referring to the things around it. But clearly we might think that there must be diamonds and things around it because it's this galaxy of stars. It's a very beautiful way to describe the ring. But it's not part of the main thrust of the action. It's just a very beautiful sentence structure that can be a creative way to think about how to do writing. Finally, prepositional phrase. What is a preposition? Prepositions are words like of, to, for, by, with; they are going to associate something. "She sat with her hands on her head". "With her hands on her head" is a prepositional phrase. "She bought the flowers for her mother". "For her mother" is a prepositional phrase. Of, to, for, by, with, there are loads of lists of prepositions. Any of those would then be a place where you could actually put figurative language. Let's look at this example here; "She leaped across the stage with a gazelle's lightness." Here again, "she leaped across the stage". That's the main focus of the sentence. We're not messing with the action of the sentence, but we're saying with a gazelle's lightness. So she gets compared. We don't say she leaked across the stage like a gazelle. That's a straight up simile. "With a gazelle's lightness" is a prepositional phrase, so it's just a different way to word things. Those differences might not always seemed like a lot to you, but the variety in your writing actually really is terribly important. Think about these and try to practice all these different ways that you can actually use simile and metaphor. We'll see at the end that I've worked this into some exercises for you to do that practice. In this next video, I want us to look at two special kinds of metaphors, both extended and implied. 7. 7 Extended and Implied Metaphor: When we think of similes and metaphors, we generally think simile, metaphor, there you go. But there are two ways we can break this down further. We've actually looked at some examples of this earlier in the class without defining them. But I'd like to define them here. These are extended or implied metaphors or similes. Let's look at the first. An extended simile or metaphor is one that isn't just a sentence long. We carry it over for a little while, it gets carried over, possibly sentences. It could even actually be carried over chapters or an entire book, especially when you think in terms of metaphor and symbolism. You might have a character who you, throughout the course of the book, you use modifiers and you use a perspective that relates that character to a bird. It's just might always be referred to in bird language and having a beak or having talents or something like that. That would be an extended metaphor because even if every time you used it, she would say something like, she clocked or she tore it with her talent or something. Even though the metaphor or simile itself might be very brief when you say it, if the repeated figurative picture of this woman over the course of your book is a bird-like one, then that becomes an extended metaphor or simile. You can have an extended metaphor made up of lots of little metaphors over the course of a book. Or you can have one that just extends over several sentences in one piece. Let's look at an example. "I don't care," she hissed. Then she sank her fangs into the bag, watching its contents spill to the floor, before contentedly flicking her tongue, turning and slithering towards the door. We see here is a woman who is being clearly compacting as a snake. "I don't care," she hissed. We have this hissing. We have the sound that a snake makes. She sank her fangs into the bags. Now we've chosen a physicality of a snake. We have it how a snake sounds. We have a trademark feature of a snake, which would be the talents. Then we have flicking her tongue, which is an action that a snake would make, and the slithering towards the door, which is another action. We have four different features of a snake that are all being used to describe her as she does this action, as she has this little round about with the bag. This would also be an extended metaphor because we're using numerous comparisons to a snake, over a sentence or two. Now an implied metaphor is a less direct metaphor. It's one that we don't actually say what the object is. But that object, the comparison is an implied one. We saw this earlier in the class when we said that his words cut her. We never said that the words were a knife. But by virtue of the fact of the action that his words did in the figurative picture, the knife or something is referenced. But let's look at another example. "After this final beratement, Mary turned away, arching her back and licking her wounds." In this situation, we've never said that Mary is a cat. But the implication is that she's a cat, that she's arched her back and she's licking her paws maybe or something like that. We've never specifically said what she is, but we've given the reader something to go on, something to imagine Mary as being in this situation. Both of these are wonderful ways to think about your figurative pictures again. The repeat message here is you want to really think about the variety of pictures. It's not just always as simple like or as statement. Figurative language is a way to flesh it out. But there's actually so much variety in the ways that you can do that. To that end, let's look at the next video in other ways that we can actually make variety a part of the figurative language that we do. How do we think about all the varieties of ways to do that. 8. 8 Sensory Variety: We have at this point already discussed a lot about the kinds of varieties you can have. Do you do a simile? Do you do a metaphor? Do you do a short comparison? Do you do an extended metaphor? What perspective? What perspective do you take? Do you take the perspective of a reader? Do you take the perspective of a character in the corner? Who is looking at whom? But you also want to think about the five senses that you have. Think about our snake comparison. There were sound, there was movement, there was visual. You want to incorporate all of these different senses into your figurative language. Think about what things might sound like, think about what they look like, what do they smell like? What do they feel like? What do they taste like? Don't limit yourselves when you think about those things. It doesn't have to be that it tasted like a sweet cupcake, things can also taste like defeat. Defeat can have a taste. Bend with the senses, but as you're thinking of just figurative language, if you find that you're constantly saying something's visual, that's not necessarily the most variety of your whole book, but it might not even be the most variety over a metaphor if it's an extended one. It might not even be the most variety if you're only comparing visual to visual. If you always do visual to visual, the sun was a bright orange, those are two visual things, as opposed to something like the sun was very tart. What is it to have a tart tasting sun? That's interesting. That makes me stop as a reader and go," I don't know," and think about that. It's okay to have similes, and metaphors that make you stop, but make sure you're looking at those various senses, and make sure you're not just going with the most obvious sensory comparisons. Stretch yourselves. But when we think about all these varieties, and when we look at this, we say, "Well, there are a lot of options here. I can really do a lot with simile, and metaphors." Yes, you can, but we want to make sure to also think about our audience, and ask ourselves how accessible, or not accessible do I want my figurative language to be. 9. 9 Considering Your Audience: It is always important to consider your audience. Now, some people will tell you, ''Write for you, write from your heart and what comes out, that's the truest thing. That if you are considering your audience at every step, that it's more of a marketing thing and it's not really a genuine story.'' Now, I definitely think that audiences can stretch and reach and meet you. So I don't think you necessarily have to strategically always consider your audience when you make your final decisions. But you should keep them in mind, and you should know that if you want to be published, your editors and your publishers are going to keep your audience in mind. Because they are the ones selling your book. So if you're writing a book for middle schoolers and you have a metaphor that somebody who is a mathematician, 50 years old will appreciate, but a 13-year-old will not, your editor is going to say, or your agent, will say, ''That needs to be a different metaphor. You've lost the reader.'' So you do want to think about your readers. Beyond that, you want to ask yourselves, "Do I want to stretch my reader here? How much information do I want to give him or her about my simile or metaphor? How much do I want my reader to imagine for himself or herself? For my purposes, and there's no sort of technical thing out here, this is how I have broken them down. I've broken this down into three. Those that are easily understood, those that require specialized knowledge to understand, like the example we gave earlier in the course where a scientist might appreciate something that I would not if I don't know science. So easily understood, requiring specialized knowledge and things that don't necessarily require specialized knowledge, but that require extra effort. Let's look at the first; easily understood. ''The revelation was like walking out of a movie theater on a cloudless day''. Most people have gone to the movies. So most people know what it feels like to be in a dark room and then walk out into the bright light. That's a fairly straightforward metaphor that assumes an experience of our readers but in extremes and experience that, more than likely, a lot of our readers probably have had. Let's look at the second; something requiring expert knowledge. ''It was as if she had entered the room dressed in a yard of chiffon.'' Now, if you don't sew, you might not appreciate how much a yard of fabric is, you might not appreciate what chiffon is, you might be able to cling that this is fabric we're talking about. But after that she might not know. So you have a choice as an author at this point. You can leave it as is and not say anything and just hope that by virtue of everything else around it, people are going to get it, or you can choose to do some contextualization. ''It was as if she had entered the room dressed in a single yard of chiffon. Pretty enough, but concealing nothing.'' So what we've done here is we have told the readers what she's thinking about, when she thinks about chiffon. We could say a lot of things about chiffon and there might be a lot of ways that walking into that room was like wearing a yard of chiffon. But for this character, chiffon is beautiful, but it covers nothing. It's not very much. She feels naked. So we didn't have to add that many words to tell the reader what she's thinking. If you'd left it as is, you could have still set up that we might have understood that this was happening, but when we added in the modifying, 'pretty enough but concealing nothing.' When we did that, we really turned the focus back onto the character to make the reader understand, "No, this is what she's thinking. This is what she thinks about chiffon." So it really turns the metaphor back in onto the character herself in this situation. We don't have to do that. You could just let it stand as is. But if you do that, you will alienate some people. Some people will go look up what chiffon is, some people won't, most people probably won't. So you might have people feel pulled out at some point, because its required a specialized knowledge. But it can also be just that they sort of understand the context of it and they sort of get, ''Okay, I understand more or less what it is.'' So that's just a decision that you have to make. So the third kind of metaphor is one that doesn't necessarily require expert knowledge, but it's a bit nebulous and isn't necessarily explained. ''Her voice was a cup of warm milk on a winter's eve.'' So, this is not necessarily as obvious to us, or as easy as, "Yes we walked out of a dark movie theater into a sunny environment." I really might have to sit there and say, "Well now how is her voice like a cup of warm milk? Not just any warm milk, a cup of warm milk on a winter's evening." It's a beautiful word picture. I don't necessarily have to have specialized knowledge, but I just have to sit with it longer. This is a great way to ask that reader to come in and be imaginative and be a part of your story. Now, it's going to slow the narrative down a bit. Because you've just asked the reader to slow down and think about it. So you don't want to put this somewhere. It's like, "High action, yes, go, go, go." Then you want to slow it down when you're trying to keep the action forward. But it's a creative word picture that asks me to slow down and consider it. So those are just three different types of ways that you can sort of consider the accessibility of your figurative language. I'd like, in our next video, to just talk a little bit about some of the things that I commonly see people make as mistakes in their writing and how you can avoid them. 10. 10 Avoiding Common Mistakes: Common mistakes, things that we can avoid. One, don't overuse figurative language. It can be so exciting to just want to say, "Well, it was like this. It was like that." Figurative language is wonderful but it's also a bit like salt. If you add too much, it spoils the whole meal. You don't want to bog your readers down with one figurative word, picture after another. The truth is that it does actually slow you're writing down so use it, absolutely embrace it, but be careful about it. Be careful about using it in terms of frequency or using the same kinds, always using a verb or something, always using a modifier. You want that variety in that form as well. Also remember that not all of your characters think figuratively. You might have some characters who have a figurative way that they think, those are the characters then where you can utilize a simile or metaphor but some characters won't think figuratively, and if you make, all your characters think that way, you've made them to similar. Also, overusing figures of speech overshadows your narrative. You don't want to cloud up the narrative and make it lose its taste for its story. To go back to the salt thing. A little bit of salt can make a chicken taste like really good chicken but if you put too much salt, you're not going to taste the chicken anymore, you're just going to taste salt, and that happens with figurative language. If you put so much of it in, I'm lost. The narrative's gone, your chicken is gone, and all I have is figurative language, it will bog it down. Be careful because it can really kill your narrative. Always remember, you don't have to use them at all. As grand as they are, if you just find that it's not something working for you, for your story, that's okay. Don't feel like you have to use it. Don't always feel the need to explain the metaphor. We've gone over a lot of examples in this class, many of which do provide some contextualization and explanation but you don't have to. Don't feel like you have to brow beat your readers to make sure they get everything. Your readers are smart so even when you do contextualize or do some explanations, what you'll see is if you look at back examples in this video they're very delicate explanations. It doesn't go on, and on to say, "Did you get it?" Let your readers get it. They'll get it. You will need very little to explain this so really hold yourself back from thinking, "I don't know. Are they going to get this wonderful symbol that I made. Maybe I need to make it a little bit more clear." You don't. You're good. Finally, avoid mixed metaphors. What are mixed metaphors? Mixed metaphors are where you have more than one comparison in the same phrase. Let's look at an example. "His words drenched her enthusiasm, grating her motivation." Well now in this case, his words are either a rainy day or a big bucket of water but they're also like a cheese grater or something like that. His words are two different things, and that breaks it up. It would be much better to just choose one picture, choose the grater, choose the water, pick one, and go with that. Don't do the mixed metaphor thing. It bogs it down, and it lacks a fluidity to what you're doing. In the next video, I want to just do some wrap up and explain the exercises that I have for you for this class. 11. 11 Class Exercise and Final Thoughts: I've said it before, but I'll say it again. This takes practice. If you just feel like this is not your thing, just keep brainstorming. It really does become a muscle that you build. The more you practice and think figuratively, the easier it will come, and the more that that figurative language will just naturally find its way into your writing. I do have an assignment for you, but I hope will help you get started. What you'll be doing is you will see that there's a list of just actions. I've tried to take out any contextualization, I needed just actions. What you are going to be doing is you'll be asked prompts and figurative language pictures to make based on a lot of different things that we've looked at in this class, all that pertain to these actions. The purpose of this exercise is to always be considering the situation and the narrative, when you were doing your writing. Rather than just making exercises for yourself or saying, the sun is like a plague, thought it in. We want to get in the habit of thinking about the narrative itself, the characters, the story, the audience. That's what this is designed to do. You have an exercise, you'll have similes, metaphors that you're being asked to create, all based on those actions. I highly recommend that you do this, it's an excellent way to practice and it will help you get those muscles going. I hope this course has been helpful. If it has, I would so appreciate you leaving a good review because that helps me so much. Also, please do look at my other courses. I have a variety on storytelling. You can also find me on YouTube. I have two YouTube channels. One is Barbara, the other is words with Barbara. You can look up either one of those, I'm also on Instagram, so I hope you will connect with me over those things. Please do leave comments and let me know if there are other courses that you're interested in, that would be wonderful because I do read them and I'm delighted to make courses that you are wanting help in. Otherwise, I thank you very much for watching. I hope you have a wonderful day and I wish you best of luck with your writing. Bye.