Thursday, December 20, 2012
Compose Through Metaphor
Metaphors have the ability to explode our thinking. However, the most effective are not delivered by loud gestures and shouting voices clamoring for our attention. They simply are. And at some point we begin to notice that they are different from what we expected, or what we thought we knew, and decide to take a better look. And a better look is required because competent metaphors can be used for both good and evil intent.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” warns the prophet Isaiah.
Sometimes we just don’t notice. For example, growing up I often heard the reference to little green men from Mars and always given in a negative context. I realized the idea came through a story or movie, but I wasn’t all that interested. In later years I’d still notice the reference given in books or shows and again wonder where and why the origin.
This week I’ve finally seen the movie John Carter and the first thought I had when I saw the first inhabitants that he saw was, “Oh, green men from Mars, but they aren’t little.” In this movie they are eight to ten feet tall, with four arms. They ride creatures as if on horseback. They argue; they care; they are funny and loyal. They insist that they don’t fly in spaceships and they won’t interfere in a war between two opposing cities. However, because of John Cater, their perspective changes as well.
Metaphors can go far beyond word choices and stereotypes to bring fresh nuances to timeless stories, especially when we tap into heart motives.
Take a support character in your novel. How can you change the readers’ expectations of him or her?
Try one or two characteristics towards positive and then again as negative. How does that influence your own perception?
Share: Which one impacts your purpose effectively?