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Extend your metaphors: Editor's Notes #236
May 31, 2017

Without getting into the technicalities of how I made the mistake, I am apologizing for sending issue 236 with the subject line of issue 235. I am sorry for any confusion this may have caused you. This additional issue contains the same information as the one you received about eight hours ago, so if you read that material, there is nothing new here except this mea culpa.

Obviously, where art has it over life is in the matter of editing. Life can be seen to suffer from a drastic lack of editing. It stops too quick, or else it goes on too long. Worse, its pacing is erratic. Some chapters are little more than a few sentences in length, while others stretch into volumes. Life, for all its raw talent, has little sense of structure. It creates amazing textures, but it can’t be counted on for snappy beginnings or good endings either. Indeed, in many cases no ending is provided at all. The kind of work that Maxwell Perkins did for Thomas Wolfe, or more recently, that Verna Fields did for Stephen Spielberg, doesn’t get done in life. Even in a literary age like the nineteenth century it never occurred to anyone to posit God as Editor, useful as the metaphor might have been.
-- Larry McMurtry

In this issue:

1. Extend your metaphors
2. Tickled my funnybone
3. Interesting Web site
4. Writing prompt

1. Extend your metaphors
In our last issue, we looked at what metaphors do. If you are unclear about what metaphors are and do, see the last issue:
Now it’s time to consider extending metaphors.

An extended metaphor is one that goes beyond one sentence. This allows the writer to consider the similarities of the two ideas with more depth and breadth. As the reader spends more focused time noticing how two things are the same, the impression the writer makes is deepened. Press long enough in one place and you may change the shape of someone else’s thinking.

Did you notice the extended metaphor in the previous paragraph? Time, pressure, and depth join together to suggest that writing can change the physical shape of things and also change minds. That’s a metaphor extended over one paragraph.

Some writers manage to keep a metaphor throughout a piece. This happens most often in poetry, but some writers manage to sustain a metaphor to the end of a whole book.

When I wrote Get Your Writing Fighting Fit I was thinking of the way writing engages in the battle for minds. Most of the book shows similarities between preparation for a physical fight and the pugilism of words. Look at these chapter titles:
Strip Down
Cut Empty Calories
Get Active
Strength Training
Mix it Up (Now I might call that one Cross-training)
A Quick Fitness Assessment

I overtly wanted my readers to think of bits of my book whenever they saw or thought about physical struggles. Many writers rely on the triggering mechanism of the human mind to think of one thing when presented with another with similar characteristics.

What can you do to increase your skill when it comes to using metaphors?


2.Tickled my funnybone
He acquired his size from too much pi.


3. Interesting Web site
Use the link below to find excellent extended metaphors.


4. Writing prompt
Did you recall any metaphors you found since reading the last issue of Editor’s Notes? If so, extend one of those into at least one more sentence. If you can’t recall one, create one now and extend it as far as you can.

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