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  • Jackie Marx

METAPHORIC LANGUAGE GUIDELINES FOR SONGWRITING

Updated: Jan 15









From a Sheila Davis workshop in 1988.


met·a·phor noun: metaphor; plural noun: metaphors


A figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable.



IF YOU START A METAPHOR, FINISH IT.

Not: Life is a sea of troubles, and I'm weary of it.

But: Life is a sea of troubles without a shore in sight.


AVOID MIXED METAPHORS.

Not: On the road to love, I keep missing the boat.

But: On the road to love, we've reached a dead-end.


MAKE YOUR METAPHOR INTERNALLY CONSISTENT.

Not: You're not the only one without an umbrella, I'm out here in a leaky boat.

But: You're not the only one without an umbrella, I'm caught in the downpour too.


GROUND YOUR METAPHOR IN REALITY.

Not: It ain't only rainin' on you Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning too So take my hand, let's swim together Maybe love can change the weather.

But: You and I can weather the bad times There's no storm we can't come through.


INTRODUCE A FIGURATIVE IMAGE IN A FIGURATIVE WAY

Not:

Crashed the reefs off rocky Maine, Won't put foot on land again: Overboard, lost at sea Girl, you made a wreck of me.

But: You smile and I lose my moorings We touch and I'm lost at sea I'm a man overboard

Look what you've done to me


KEEP A SERIES EITHER ALL LiTERAL OR ALL FIGURATIVE Not: She paints her lips bright red And puts her money where her mouth is.

But: She paints her lips bright red and her toenails pink

Or: She's full of big talk But she puts her money where her mouth is.




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