Glossary Gleaning – Images

The word cliché jumped from the upper middle page of my notebook and I noticed the underlined word overused. How to avoid clichés was Antoinette Brim’s Pocketful of Images IWWG webinar, September 18, 2020. A celebrated poet, she knows about “the power of imagery and metaphor to give concreteness to abstraction.” It was time to refresh my memoir.

Imagery is the art of creating a mental image through descriptive words that use the five senses to generate an emotional response.

What is a Cliché Anyway?

Sharp as a tack: What’s implied isn’t untrue. A tack is sharp but the brain isn’t, not in the literal sense. To wake up on the wrong side of the bed is a cliché too. Both examples lack originality and should be avoided in writing

The generative exercise in the webinar was fun: create new metaphors by interchanging two existing clichés. Since it didn’t ring any inspirational bell, I applied the exercise to proverbs.  

As cool as a cucumber / As free as a bird 

As free as a cucumber / As cool as a bird

Time heals all wounds / An apple never falls far from the tree.

Time never falls far from the tree / An apple heals all wounds.

Comparing an abstract (time) to a tangible (apple) was more inspiring than two words belonging to the same realm. One can philosophize at great length about the elusive meaning of time whereas an apple is a straightforward concept that can lead to five of the seven major types of imagery:

VISUAL (color), OLFACTORY (smell), GUSTATORY (taste), TACTILE (touch), and AUDITORY (sound—biting into it). As for whether an apple can really all wounds, some say that one day keeps the doctor away.

The two other types of imagery are:

KINESTHETIC (the feeling of natural or physical movement or action). I hang my head from sorrow… I wear it on my shoulders—Alicia Keys, Superwoman

ORGANIC (internal sensations and emotions to help the reader/listener feel what the character/interpreter feels) as in hunger, love, fear, disgust, and sadness. And I start to get weak
Alicia Keys, Superwoman. Weakness is organically conveyed with the word “weak.”

Glossary for Images

METAPHOR: a comparison between two unlike things, helping visualize and interpret, without like or as. There were sirens in the beat of your heart—Taylor Swift, Red.

CLICHE: an overused metaphor.

SIMILE: comparing two things with like and as. Sweet like candy to my soul—Dave Matthews Band, Crash into Me

CONCEIT: also called an extended metaphor. A far-fetched comparison, more intellectual than sensual, nevertheless making sense. I’m the one at the sail, I’m the master of my sea—Imagine Dragon, Believer.

ABSTRACTION: expressing a thought without a concrete image. … the warmth of her glance, pensive and sweet and wise—Tony Benett, Wait Till You See Her. We might extrapolate on why she was pensive, sweet, and wise. Perhaps abstract painting is a better explanation: it leaves space for interpretation. Driving a car is often used as an example of abstraction; it’s self-explanatory that the driver doesn’t need to know about engineering to drive one.

ANALOGY: a figure of speech, a logical argument explaining how an unfamiliar idea or object is like a familiar one. Life is like a Box of Chocolate—Forest Gump.

HYPERBOLE: a figure of speech using exaggeration to convey drama and urgency. … one winter it was so cold that all the geese flew backwardsBabe the Blue Ox.

ONOMATOPOEIA: a word sounding like what it is. The cork popped from the bottle of Champagne. Not to be confused with an exclamation/interjection such as crikey! made famous by Steve Irwin, The Crocodile Hunter.

PERSONIFICATION: to give a human characteristic to animals or objects. While My Guitar Gently Weeps—The Beatles

Like a photograph, an image is the shortest way to express a thoughtthat’s why it’s worth one thousand words.