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Metaphors for aspects of writing (1 Viewer)


Senior Member
I understand things best when I have a good metaphor/ allegory/comparison. I am looking for more metaphors to understand different aspects of writing too, so please add yours. I am especially hoping to understand set up and pay off better.

Character Motivations and Pool Balls
This is a published author’s metaphor (but I can’t remember whose, eek): once you introduce a character’s motivation/ (you start it rolling) will keep rolling in the reader’s mind until it collides with something else or falls down a hole. I like this because you can only write or read one line at a time and it’s true for the reader, the characters continue in their motivations until we stop them somehow.

A few I’ve come up with that help me:

Books and Roller Coaster Rides:
“Deciding to read a certain book for our readers is like deciding to take a certain roller coaster ride. If they are looking for a wild ride, you better knock their socks off with adrenaline and speed—it’s expected that the audience wants to be shook up and terrified in a few places, but still to come down safe in this case in the end and it shouldn’t take too long. Are they looking for a kiddie ride? Short and sweet and only challenging for a certain age. Are they looking for a settled atmosphere due to just eating lunch? If you promise one thing and the story is too different from expected/advertised then expect some very angry readers.

Reveals and Clues and Toy Models and Number Games
The following ideas have come to me from reading very badly set up reveals.

—Readers love to solve problems when we have all the tools to solve them and when we believe we can solve them in a given time for fun. Don’t ask us to build a house, but don’t make it so easy it takes 5 seconds. The satisfaction of solving it needs to outweigh the trouble because we are doing this for enjoyment supposedly. It has to feel within our reach within the time it takes to comfortably read a book for entertainment and self-betterment and all the tools need to be there at our fingertips. This part is like opening a kit to make a model of a dinosaur and finding there is no glue in the kit (the he book is written in a way that makes it so we can’t piece the mystery together) or it is missing bones (not enough clues were given— we are likely going to abandon the puzzle if this happens unless there is an extra reason we are being determined. Life is too short, right?

—We hate it when someone states the obvious, insulting our intelligence. “8+ 6 make 14!” We know! We aren’t stupid.

—We hate it when someone suddenly says: “Didn’t any of you get it? The answer is 27!”
Huh? Was there a problem to solve?
“Yes, I put it in for the smart ones”.
Smart ones? You didn’t give us enough information and there are actually a lot of combos that make 27… I dont care about 27 now that you’ve said it here at the end and you think it’s such a big deal. I’m not a mind reader. I thought I could trust you. I thought you were just taking me along for the ride since you didn’t say there was a problem. This is for sure the mistake of the author.

— I shouldn’t feel like I have to take a college class to solve the problem. (Satisfaction has to be greater than the work involved.) it has to feel solvable within the amount of time it takes to read the MS. For instance, the dinosaur model kit had better come with instructions and not say “Go enroll in a Paleontology program and you can build this dinosaur.” Case in point, this long thread you are reading now has to feel worth it.

— We love it when someone says “I’m thinking of a number.” (We now have our cue that there is a game. In mysteries someone just has to die and it’s the same cue. Anyway somehow set up that there is a mystery/problem to solve, maybe it’s just a question that your MC ponders. “I’m thinking of a number.” We know what to do. We wait expectantly for more clues. We are a captive audience. The person says “It’s under 25”. Oh okay we are looking for something under 25. We can do this! . “It is divisible by 3”. Okay. I have some ideas. “I was this age once”. Okay okay, you tease! “A friend of mine is this age.” (Don’t go too far, your audience will get frustrated and bored and set the book aside). “It’s the age Americans are allowed to drink!”
The crowd cheers! Several think I knew it was that. People make good on their bets.

These helped me.