A Figure of Speech

Figurative language is essential for creating a full sensory environment and helps readers to become emotionally invested in your characters. It’s also what will most likely be quoted when people talk about your writing.

“My mind is a raging torrent, flooded with rivulets of thought cascading into a waterfall of creative alternatives.” (Blazing Saddles)

Is not just a beautiful statement, but conveys the personality of the character much better than, ‘I have a lot of ideas’ ever would have.

7 classifications of figurative language.

  • Simile – A  direct comparison of dissimilar items using like or as. Examples: His hair is like a bird’s nest or, Those lips are as red as a rose.
  • Metaphor – also compares dissimilar items, but in a more abstract or representational way.  Examples: He’s nothing more than a braying donkey, the quote above.
  • Personification – human characteristics or personality to non-human or inanimate objects. Examples: The rain was dancing off the lake, The teeth chomped on the gum, The frog was thinking about flies.
  • Hyperbole – extreme exaggeration that is not meant to be taken literally. Examples: So hungry I could eat a horse, If I don’t get to that concert, I’ll die.
  • Idioms – commonly used phrases that are used to describe something other than what they actually say. These tend to be culturally dependent, so different phrases are used around the world to describe the same meaning. Examples: everything but the kitchen sink , It’s raining cats and dogs, Tighter than Dick’s hat band.
  • Alliteration – Use of the same sounds or words repeatedly. We tend to find them in tongue twisters, but they are useful for descriptive purposes as well. Examples: Pick a peck of pickled peppers, a sliver of singing swords
  • Onomatopoeia -Word that are imitations of sounds. They may or may not also refer to what makes the sounds, such as cuckoo or hiccup. Examples: bop, buzz, hiss, sizzle, meow.

As fun as figurative language can be, you must use it sparingly. In an attempt to avoid long boring passages, some early writers use an over abundance of descriptive terms to the point where the meaning becomes lost in the words. Also be careful not to mix metaphors, or create ones that don’t make sense. It’s not a good sign if your reader has to stop and think about the words instead of what you mean.

Remember to not loose the forest for the trees.

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