Friday, 10 December 2010

Get your metaphors in a twist!

Metaphors are incredibly powerful tools, when you get them right - but writers can give too free a rein to their imagination, letting the horse of figurative language have its head (see what I'm doing here?) and they can fall at the Becher's Brook of comprehensibility.

Only Shakespeare can get away with this sort of frantic coinage of the mind: famously, Hamlet talks of taking arms against a sea of troubles, for instance, and Bill makes it work precisely because of the Canute-like absurdity of military action against the ocean.

My favourite mixed metaphors are 'I smell a rat! Shall I nip it in the bud?' and one which one of my students heard in a meeting: 'The road-map is on track to take off.'

And here today is another corporate-speak nonsense: one of Bloomsbury's sales and marketing people, when interviewed about their new deal with Google e-books, describes the advantages (apparently. Hmnn...) to authors and indie booksellers: 'Anyone that has any platform with any legs moving forward is on cloud.'

I leave that vision with you.


Karen said...

Oh dear. Why don't these corporate people realise how silly they sound?

Mind you I've probably been guilty of mixing metaphors in my writing at some point!

Lane said...

What a muddle! I find the repetition of 'any' in that last one disturbing too:-)

Happy Christmas to you and yours Lorna and hope next year brings continuing success to Fictionfire.

Lorna F said...

Karen and Lane - I'm glad you both enjoyed this silliness and even gladder to have such loyal blog-friends. Thanks for coming by so often. Reading your blogs is a joy and I wish both of you every happiness and success in the coming year. xxx