Making Metaphors, Part II: Exercises

Like a lot of great poets, William Butler Yeats paid attention to verbs. Pitcured: A 1900 portrait of Yeats by his father, John Butler Yeats. Public domain In the last issue I promised exercises to help you tone your metaphorical muscles. Here they are. Of course, simply reading them will only give you understanding. Doing them is the point. You don’t build muscle by reading about exercise. EXERCISE 1 Get a group together, at least four people. Divide the participants into two equal groups. Each member of one group makes an arbitrary list of five interesting adjectives. At the same time, each member of group two makes an arbitrary list of five interesting nouns. Then their arbitrary lists are combined, usually resulting in some pretty strange combinations. For example, adjectives | nouns smoky | conversation refried | railroad decaffeinated | rainbow hollow | rain forest understated | eyebrows Think about each combination for a minute. They evoke some interesting possibilities. Take any combination and try to write a sentence or short paragraph from it. Like this: “Since I got your phone call, everything seems dull. My day has been bleached of sound and color. Even the rainbow this afternoon has…

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