Literary Liaisons

A blog about writing and all things story…

Use Metaphors Like Salt

And she has TWO arms!
Lately I have so many things going on that I feel like that well-worn cliché, you know the one about a one armed wall paper hanger – however that goes. Trying to recall how that saying goes reminded me that it didn’t matter what the exact words are because the image was stuck in my mind and will remain there forever.

That’s the thing about some clichés and worn out axioms; they create an instant image in our minds that sticks. It sticks, because it works. It works because it holds within it a universal truth. We all know how hard and chaotic it is to hang wallpaper withtwo arms, let alone one. And if you’ve never hung wall paper, try it, and get back to me. The first time I wallpapered I used both arms, my head, my legs, and even my dog, but then we had to shave the dog because he climbed into the glue bin and well, it was a two-armed, four-legged mess, consequently, the one-armed-wallpaper hanger holds a relatable truth (trauma) for me, and my dog.

Anyway…it’s why I like to use imagery and metaphors in my writing when I’m clever enough to think of them; like that Orson Scott Card quote, “Metaphors have a way of holding the most truth in the least space.”

So true.

So, while you’re stuffing, trussing, butter waxing or deep frying your turkey tomorrow, think about the ways you dress-up, add substance, and polish your writing with instant imagery, (whether the desired effect is sensory/emotional, like a universal scent; burnt toast, coffee, sea air, roasting turkey – or a specific image like the metaphor about a one armed wall paper hanger) These things lift your story to another level, add sensory details or concepts that instantly inform a reader. A few carefully chosen words, or an image, can have a greater impact and hold more truth than pages and pages of narrative.
Add metaphors to your writing, a dash here and there, like salt to your gravy; too much destroys the flavor, but just enough brings it to life.
Happy writing.
Many blessings, Mindy

PS- I found the wallpaper image at

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One comment on “Use Metaphors Like Salt

  1. Stephen Hayes
    November 21, 2012

    I promise that I'll avoid cliche's like the plague! Happy Thanksgiving.

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