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Metaphor, Metonymy, and the Joy of Putting it all Together

These three videos, created to promote the free courses on this site, demonstrate the effectiveness of placing two objects together to create meaning.

You'll find a detailed definition and explanation of metaphor (in summary: finding likenesses between unlike things) in the coursework material for "What is Literary Fiction?"

Metonymy describes relations of contiguity or adjacency. A metonym occurs when we use terms like "chair" or "crown" to refer to a person in authority. The chairperson sits on the chair, the king or queen wears the crown. But instead of describing the person, we refer to the thing that is associated with their authority.

Finding likeness in unlike things, and identifying associations are two very powerful tools for generating meaning in a literary text. But you don't have to be writing high fiction to make use of these tools, as these fun little videos show.

Can you see the effect of contiguity (adjacency or association) and metaphor (likeness) in these videos?

In this video, for example, a great deal is conveyed about point of view (P.O.V.) without much being said at all. And it's all done through the placement of simple text and images. What happens as you view the video is that you put the images and the text together to create a meaning that goes beyond the explanation offered by the words. The images, and the way the focus moves around them, pretty much defines P.O.V. without words.

I know, incredible isn't it? But it's actually something we all know how to do. We read our environment by making use of the strategies of metaphor and metonymy. And we do it on a daily basis. You don't even have to know these terms to be adept interpreters of the social world.

As you write your novel, you will be bringing people and objects together. And in doing this, as much you you create meaning through your choice of words, you will be generating meaning by the associations and likenesses that you build into your narrative. We'll be discussing this shortly in the second part to "Using Mood to Structure Your Novel," and in a short course on P.O.V., coming soon.

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2 comentários

11 de fev. de 2022

This is an excellent resource Victoria.

Victoria Reeve
Victoria Reeve
11 de fev. de 2022
Respondendo a

Thanks Graham! Have you checked out my blog at I post more regularly on narrative theory there.

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