Judging with metaphor

Another way to classify things is in terms of what we think they are like—which takes us into the world of simile and metaphor.

For instance, in what terms does this narrator view their constantly-complaining neighbour?

She was a master of the art of graphic description; groaning, gasping, doubling up in agony, stamping about the rooms, she would give us such a realistic picture of her suffering that we would find our own stomachs aching in sympathy.

The narrator's opinion is captured in a metaphor:

  • "She was a master of the art of graphic description"—he's comparing her to a performer, and emphasising her mastery.

He expands with some detail, then reinforces the description with a related metaphor: 

  • "She would give us such a realistic picture of her suffering"—he's again comparing her to an artist, this time commenting on her realism.

After which he expands with more detail.

Overall, the narrator sees this annoying behaviour as a masterful performance, something worthy of a kind of respect and admiration because it was so over the top and affecting.

(Note how this tells us something about the narrator as well as his neighbour.)

How does this narrator see his dog?

Mr Gustaf, as much as I love him, is a total poop machine: gassy, sneaky, straining, and staining, stashing his noxious deposits in every nook of our house, until he creates a miasma so poisonous that we must pay the City Watch an extra thirty guilders to come in, scrape it up, and then drop it into the water barrels outside the den Houts' house.

How does this narrator see the pool at the abandoned school?

The pool at the abandoned school was the ultimate horror movie set: rectangular, straight, no curves, terrible for skating, but a deep end full of such rank water and rotting garbage that you felt sure it had to contain an unspeakable monster, one that would grab you with a slimy tentacle and drag you down before your screams could get the attention of the distant neighbours.

Imagine your character looking at something that they strongly like or dislike.

What does it remind them of? Have them describe their attitude in terms of a metaphor.

If you can, see if you can expand the description and reinforce it by returning to the metaphor at some point in the snippet.

Write a snippet in which the narrator describes something they feel strongly about using simile or metaphor.

You might notice we're getting further and further away from expressing an evaluation directly: we started by saying things we good or bad, and now we're talking about association and metaphor.

But we can go further: how can you tell me your opinion without telling me your opinion?