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Does this metaphor work? : Conversation question • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com

Does this metaphor work?

Every month in Writer's Digest's InkWell section, we pose a question related to the writing life. Tell us your thoughts.
blaisem
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Does this metaphor work?

Postby blaisem » Sat May 17, 2014 12:53 pm


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Oldtimer
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby Oldtimer » Sat May 17, 2014 2:27 pm

Sorry, but it doesn't work for me. For one thing, I can't imagine a scene where the air would 'snap'. It can become tense, fraught, electrifying, fresh, stale, ... etc., etc.

Blood becoming spoiled milk? Hum. It would work better the other way round. IMO.

I think you had better listen to that lovely girlfriend. :)
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DrG2
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby DrG2 » Sat May 17, 2014 3:47 pm

I think it works for me. I get the visual of "chunky" spoiled milk. You might want to try some rewording of the idea, though.

It depends on the broader context of whether it works in the story.

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updog
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby updog » Sat May 17, 2014 4:38 pm

I'm with Oldtimer and the girlfriend. Doesn't work for me at all. I think you're trying to play with the old "blood curdling scream" cliche, but curdling blood "to" spoiled milk makes no sense. In the cliche, blood is curdling the way milk does, but isn't actually turning into curdled milk. :? Also, "inhumane" doesn't sound like the right word to me. Do you mean "inhuman"?
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DrG2
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby DrG2 » Sat May 17, 2014 5:14 pm

the thing that works for me is the visual. "blood curdling" is a cliche, but when he relates it to curdled milk, it goes back to the roots of the term. It could be reworded, but I love the idea.

and I think I've posted here that 95% of the figurative language I read doesn't fly with me. ironic that I'm the defender here.

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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby MookyMcD » Sat May 17, 2014 6:33 pm

Do you mean inhuman instead of inhumane?

The mixture of metaphors isn't working for me. Snapped the air makes me think of something crisp and clear. Curdled is wet and clogged, spoiled milk makes me think of a smell more than a texture. So it's a jumble of sensations, only one of which I think you intend, and some of which contradict it. Just my opinion, though.

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updog
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby updog » Sat May 17, 2014 7:35 pm

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James A. Ritchie
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sun May 18, 2014 11:01 am

I think you mean "Inhuman", too, and I also think "snapped" sounds more like cold than anything else. I also think it would work better as a simile than as a metaphor. I'm not even sure how I would rewrite it.

If I were going to use it, I think I'd write something like, "An inhuman roar shattered the silence and curdled blood like spoiled milk".

Maybe it's my lack of imagination, but I'm having trouble writing it in a way that doesn't come across as a cliche.

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mammamaia
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby mammamaia » Sun May 18, 2014 1:19 pm

sorry, but it doesn't work, for all the reasons noted above...
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Re: Does this metaphor work?

Postby James A. Ritchie » Sun May 18, 2014 7:02 pm

I will say that you can sometimes make a pure cliche work, if you do so with a bit of humor, and acknowledge that it is a cliche, and you know it. To use your original wording, with the exception of "inhumane:

An inhuman roar snapped the air and curdled blood to spoiled milk. Well, okay, the air didn't actually snap, my blood didn't curdle, and I'm pretty sure no one's blood turned into spoiled milk, but that was one bitch of a roar, and I kid you not. If it didn't curdle blood, or turn it into spoiled milk, it certainly made me tighten some muscles I don't usually have to tighten in such a hurry.


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