View Full Version : Are these kind of metaphors/descriptions beautiful, ugly, or distasteful?

Kane Jiang
August 29th, 2019, 06:12 AM
Is it ok to have metaphors in short stories?

"In her dream, she had been playing under the iridescent moon – its crescent shape looking like it pierced the silence of the serene enveloping night."
- It's night and I wanted to convey a peaceful, quaint image.

"Beams of glowing light emanated from the windows in parallel rays, their lemon colored entrails spilling out over the chestnut lined pews of the monastery."
- I could not really think of a better way to describe light with parts of its insides or middle parts moving out faster than the sides.

"Outside the sun shone brilliantly as the branches of the oak and birch trees billowed to the tune of the nationalism displayed by the residents of Lestia."
-There was a tournament, and I wanted the natural surroundings to seem to be supportive of it.

"Motivation is the sky; it streaks higher than the soil through both empty space and cloudy smoke."
-I imagined a Native American gathering, and rephrased what they might say. This is supposed to be part of a speech.

"As the exhibitionist twilight colors showed through the multi-colored sky of yellows and saffron, Leila smiled with satisfaction."
-Here, I'm not using the definition of exhibitionism, but the other definition. I was trying to compare the sky as a performer that set the mood for the events to come.

"And there it was – Arale castle – the limestone fortification with two keeps and a wrought iron drawbridge looking atop a bustling moat which had currents that rivaled that of the Atlantic Ocean."

Are these metaphors/descriptions beautiful, ugly, distasteful, forced, sensual, too complicated, elegant, boring, and/or other?

P.S. Is it narcissistic of me to enjoy reading these metaphors (I came up with them)? I don't see what's wrong if I like the sounds of the words and the ideas?

August 29th, 2019, 10:21 AM
Hello Kane Jiang! I see that you are a new member of the forums. WELCOME!!!

I think metaphors are entirely acceptable in a short story. A short story does not have as much land to build upon as does a novel and as a result many of the devices employed by a novel, including metaphorical allusions, must be short and to the point such as the ones you present in your examples.

Do I think you are narcissistic because you enjoy reading what you have written? Absolutely not! You have reached into the depths of your heart to create, within the limits of your ability, a phrase which translates your innermost feelings into something which can be shared by others through the medium of the printed word. Our literary creations whether they be phrases we enjoy revisiting or an entire story are like our children, we have given birth to them, and if our intentions were sincere it is only natural that we love them.

Often in choosing a metaphorical comparison we are prone to jump at the first thing that comes to mind. In the selection Beams of light ... the comparison to "entrails" suggests something akin to disembowelment which clashes remarkably with what I am sure was your intention to convey in this otherwise peaceful and serene description. Perhaps a comparison to water flowing in a stream which deposits its reflections through stained glass (since "pews" suggest that this is a church) upon the pews. The intensity of the flow of this light might somehow be described by the intensity, or brightness, of the light as it diffuses outward.

Some of your other examples could use polishing and refining as well, but the important thing to me is that you are striving to give birth to these inner visions and feelings and this is not an easy task. Writing can always be amended, but if the author lacks the incentive to attempt confluence with the mind of the reader - to express the ineffable innermost visions of the author - then nothing can be done about it. You DO have this incentive and I admire you for having it.

All forms of art are similar in some ways. For instance, I am a terrible sketcher and painter. I have no talent whatsoever in drawing or painting pictures on a canvas, but I try to paint with words instead. Whether we express ourselves through the art of music, painting, sculpture, or writing we are always confronted with the same challenge of achieving a connection with those with whom we are attempting to communicate. Metaphorical writing can be one of the most difficult shades to paint, but in my opinion if done correctly can elevate a story to another level of quality.

Thank you for your post and for sharing your writing with us.

August 31st, 2019, 11:16 PM
P.S. Is it narcissistic of me to enjoy reading these metaphors (I came up with them)? I don't see what's wrong if I like the sounds of the words and the ideas?

Adding metaphors to your writing is an excellent way of conveying emotion and enhancing the beauty of your work. As DATo mentioned, short stories don't offer as much room for metaphors as novels, but I think including some is perfectly acceptable. I think some of the metaphors you presented can use some trimming, for example:

"In her dream, she had been playing under the iridescent moon – its crescent shape looking like it pierced the silence of the serene enveloping night." --you can replace the underlined portion with "piercing" to make the metaphor more concise. I would also say that using passive language (was, is, to be) is a good way of slowing down text and creating a more calming atmosphere. By contrast, using a lot of active, "ing" verbs helps speed up the text and make the metaphor sound more immediate or intense. You can play with these depending on the type of atmosphere you are trying to present.

When it comes to enjoying your metaphors, I think that you definitely should. As writers, we often tend to be our own worst critics --we often forget that by creating and sharing our work, we are taking huge risks. You took a risk by opening yourself up to your peers and sharing a part of yourself, I think that is commendable. The fact that you enjoy reading your work shows that writing makes you happy and I think that is what everyone should ultimately strive for. Own and love your creativity, it's a part of who you are!

Thank you!

Olly Buckle
September 1st, 2019, 12:06 AM
I have recently been reading short stories by Neil Gaiman and was struck by some of his original metaphors, so yes they do work in shorts, and yes, the more original the better; something to make them take notice, not the same old clichés.

I would agree with Umree on the 'looking like it … ' , though not for quite the same reason. Anything that qualifies what you are saying weakens it slightly. Imagine I had said 'It is usually true that things that qualify ...' ; see what I mean?

Why shouldn't you appreciate your own writing? Put it another way, you are asking other people to appreciate it, so you ought to think it's good yourself :)