Duck, Duck, Goose: How to use Metaphorical Objects

Let’s begin at the beginning and define our terms. What is a Metaphorical Object? Here are the lexical definitions.

Metaphorical: a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something to which it is not literally applicable in order to suggest a resemblance.

Object: a material thing that can be seen and touched.

In literature, we tend to use metaphors for description.

“He was the lion of the battlefield”

“The butterfly of her pencil flitted over the paper.”

Metaphors are an extremely powerful literary device, and sometimes they can carry the message of the story on their shoulders. (That’s another metaphor for you.)

You can make the message of your story about 10 times stronger by using metaphors, and in this post, I want to show you one of the ways to do that: metaphorical objects. Let’s start with an example and then find out what makes it work.

This example is from an old Christmas movie you might be familiar with, called It’s a Wonderful Life.

In the movie, the main character, George, has a lot of problems going on in his life (as all main characters should). In his house, there’s a staircase, and the top of the first post in that staircase is broken. Every time he walks up the stairs he absentmindedly puts his hand on the top of that post, and accidentally takes it off. Then, looking annoyed, he puts it back on or sometimes slams it back on in frustration.

But then, at the end of the movie, after he’s learned some important lessons, he does it again. Walks up the staircase, and accidentally takes the top off the post. But this time his reaction is different. He gives a laugh, kisses the post-top, and sets it back in its place.

The End… Kind of. Let’s take a look at what happened here: The broken stair post represented everything that George felt was wrong with his life. But at the end of the movie, when he learns to be thankful for what he does have, his reaction is different. He’s even thankful for a broken stair post because even with all the problems in this world, it’s a wonderful life!

Okay, but why does this work? And how?

Let me introduce you to something I call the duck, duck goose concept.

Remember playing that game? Duck, duck, duck, Goose! You never know when the person walking around the circle is going to say goose, or who they’re going to tap on the head. It’s the same with hot potato, musical chairs, and metaphorical objects. Every time the George pulls the top off the post, it’s duck, duck, duck… Then you trigger your object when your readers least expect it; something about the process changes, and… Goose!

Books are all about change, character growth, plot twists… Etcetera. If something doesn’t change from the beginning of your book to the end, then there’s definitely something wrong.

Your metaphorical objects can represent that change, or foreshadow it, using the ongoing duck, duck, goose method. In my book, Honey Butter, the metaphorical object was a major part of the plot, and I used my ‘goose’ for a plot twist.

If you haven’t read my book yet then skip the next section, as it contains spoilers, and go straight on to the next example.

Spoilers Begin!

In Honey Butter, the main character, Jamie, collects paint cards. She has her box of paint cards with her at all times, it’s more than just a hobby, it’s an obsession.

Jamie is rather self-centered at the beginning of the book, but as the story goes on, she not only makes an incredible new friend, she learns to be grateful for the people in her life that she already has. One by one, she begins to give away the paint cards in her collection, each time she grows closer to someone, she gives them one.

She’s giving away what she used to reserve only for her, and the more she gives away, the less she needs them for herself. And each time she gives them one, it’s duck, duck, duck…  Goose! But I can’t give away the goose, now can I? My metaphorical object plays a larger role than most objects, so I would be giving away the big plot twist.

Spoilers Ended!

Here’s another example, this one just made up.

12-year-old Ruby is bored with normal life, always making big plans, and always in a hurry. Every morning she goes downstairs, pours hot water into a cup of tea, and then hurries back upstairs to makes big plans about an adventure she’s going to go on – someday anyway. But she works so long every morning that the tea get’s cold, and when she finally comes back downstairs, she takes a sip, frowns, and pours out the rest of the tea. (Duck…)

Day after day throughout the story this ritual is repeated. (Duck, duck.) But then at the very end, Ruby has learned an important lesson, that adventure can be found anywhere and that the little things in life matter. In the last chapter, she doesn’t go upstairs to do her planning while the tea cools, instead she stays downstairs and drinks her tea with her family. This time, the tea is still hot. (Goose!)

Okay, enough examples. How do you make your own metaphorical object? Below are a few of my suggestions for creating them. Note I say ‘suggestions’.  When it comes to creating a book, there is no wrong, only write.

Tangible Object

I think part of the reason this kind of metaphor is so powerful is that the object is literally part of the story. The characters can touch it, smell it, and maybe hear it, depending on what it is. For this reason, both the characters and the reader have a closer connection to it. It works really well when it’s an item the character cares about, say, a special mug. If your reader cares about the mug, they not only care that the problem is solved but how it should be solved. They wouldn’t, for instance, want the character to smash the mug or buy a new one. If the object represents the character, then buying a new mug would mean trying to be a new version of themselves. It’s just another way to make your readers root for the character.

Not Too Similar

This goes for all metaphors, not just metaphorical objects. The things you are comparing should only be the same in the way you are comparing them. You wouldn’t, for instance, say that a frog was as green as a toad.

Don’t Overly Acknowledge

The metaphorical objects lose some of their power, I feel if it’s acknowledged too much. It takes away some of the magic. This is where show, don’t tell really has to be used. And remember, you don’t need to spell out every last detail for your readers. The beauty of a book is that it can be interpreted many different ways.

For instance, with my tea example, we wouldn’t want Ruby’s mother to say something like; “Ruby dear, you really need to remember to drink your tea, it gets cold every morning!” She might, though, sigh and shake her head as she watches Ruby pour it down the drain.

A Few Ideas

Now we get to the fun part: playing with some different versions and spin-offs of this duck, duck goose concept.

The examples I showed before have the ‘goose’ happen at the end, representing the character’s transformation. But there are really many other ways to do it.

Instead of representing character change, it could represent environment or community change. Or the relationship between characters. Maybe the ‘goose’ is what sets off the climax.

It can also be a great way to provoke emotion in the reader, for instance maybe there are two friends who have a watch that they share, and they take turns wearing it every day. (Duck, duck, duck…) Then one of the friends moves away and the other friend has no one to exchange the watch with anymore. (Goose!)

There could also be more than one change. Then even perceptive readers won’t see the second one coming because they think the ‘goose’ already happened.

It’s like saying ‘duck, duck, duck, Moose! Just kidding, Goose!’

Take my last example with the watch. The two friends exchanging the watch each day was the duck part. Then one of them moving away was the goose part. But what if it wasn’t? What if the friend moving away was ‘moose’. Then maybe the first character starts exchanging the watch with a new friend, and that was the ‘goose’.

So what do you guys think? Where have you spotted metaphorical objects before? What are other ways to use them that I haven’t covered? Do you think this could work in your own story?

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

Upon the Backs of Old Drafts

I was sketching on a piece of scrap paper a few days ago. Jotting down a few ideas and scribbling out a few pictures for the fantasy novel I’m currently readying to write the second draft of. I happened to flip the scrap paper over and couldn’t help but laugh at what I saw on the back. It was a page from my first draft of Honey Butter, none of which remains in the final printed and bound book.

There are plenty of pages like these floating around our house, and here I was, drawing up ideas for my second book on the back of the first. Was it only a year ago that I wrote those misspelled, hastily typed words on the paper before me? And now I was doing it all over again with a new story, which will climb from draft to draft to draft and finally publication.

But I think it’s an interesting idea: you may have finished a story, but it will never be finished with you. You build upon what you have already written; you write upon the backs of old drafts.

In the same way, 2018 will build off of 2017 as the new year stretches out before us, inviting, and full of possibility.

And yes, it is indeed January 19th, and we are indeed several weeks into the new year. So this post is a bit late, isn’t it? But it’s still the first month of the year, even if it is not the first day, so I don’t think it’s too late to jot down a few plans and hopes and dreams and schemes for the year ahead. And considering the fact that last year I wrote down ‘finish and publish Honey Butter’ with a tentative pen deep within a private journal, and that it DID happen…this year, I’m going to aim high. Shoot for the stars and you might hit the moon they say! Although personally, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to hit their head on a star in the first place, considering the fact that they are balls of fire, the moon might be preferable.

Alright, enough with the witty wordplay! (For now anyway.) Here are a few of my goals for 2018!

Get Honey Butter into Barnes and Noble

I told you I was going to aim high. This, admittedly, is the one I’m most apprehensive about. But I’m going to try anyway, and you don’t know until you try. Who knows what might happen?

Twenty Reviews of Honey Butter on Amazon and Goodreads

Here’s the part you guys can help me out with. 😉
Okay but really, I’m already halfway there, and it shouldn’t be too hard to get ten more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads in the next year. I see twenty as a decent amount, and if we reach it I will be happy to do a giveaway or book signing or something along those lines in celebration.

Publish Another Book

This may be my fantasy novel or my poetry book, or if possible, both. We’ll have to see what happens. Either way, I will be working hard on both of these. Wish me luck!

Publish Honey Butter as an Audio Book

Yes! That’s right! I’m recording an audiobook for Honey Butter! You have partly my little brother to thank for that. He listens to audio books twenty-four seven and has been asking me to make one of Honey Butter for a while now. It’s slow going, but I should definitely have it done sometime this year.

Also, just to let you guys know. I am currently 50 followers away from 500 on Instagram, once I reach 500 I am planning to do a giveaway of my book and some cute paint card bookmarks that I made. So if you have an Instagram account and haven’t already; go follow me! Just search millieflorenceauthor.

That’s all for now I suppose. But I have a good feeling about the year ahead. Who knows how much adventure it might contain!

Keep Writing!

– Millie

An Author’s Sacrifice

Right now I’m in one of those steady, happy routines. Nothing huge is going on (at least not writing related) and I’m working on a new book, promoting Honey Butter, cooking, reading, and enjoying the coming of fall.

There are always new challenges, of course, one of which is balancing both promotion and writing. I’ve been managing homeschool and writing for a long time, (Plus, when you’re homeschooled your work only takes about as long as you want it to) but adding promotion has taken some getting used too. This is partly because it’s not in any way predictable. Sometimes it means replying to emails or writing informational blog posts. Sometimes it means googling ‘book review blogs’ and sifting through the results or going to award websites and reading through their submission guidelines.

My current writing projects are going pretty well. I’m hoping to finish the first draft of the new fantasy book I’m writing over the next few months. And I’m seventy-five percent done with the book of poems I’m writing.

But away, let’s get to the point of this blog post.

I envy my readers. Not in a bad way, but more of a wistful ‘oh well’ way.

The reason for this is that I can never read my book, and they can. I don’t mean that I am literally unable to read the words, but I can never really read it. I’ve analyzed this story to the breaking point, I always know what’s going to happen next, I’m pretty sure that if I tried I could recite some passages from memory.

I will never be surprised by the plot twist, never caught off guard by something a character says, never wonder ‘what happens next?’. I will never be able to sit down and experience it the way a normal reader would because I’m not the reader.

I guess that’s just the sacrifice an author has to make to bring a story to life. But you know what’s great? Actually, there are several great things;

  1. Other people can experience it.

Dear readers; never take for granted your ability to read and truly experience a book, because the author of that book cannot. This is crazy to think about, but it’s true. Think of all your favorite authors and their amazing books, then realize; they can’t read that amazing book the same way you can! But to give the world a story, and to give you a story, makes it totally worth it.

2. There is more than one author in the world.

Even if I can’t read my own book, there are millions of books out there, and new ones keep on coming. I have a forest of pages before me, all of them ready to explore…

Well, those are my disorganized musings for the day, and I hope you found them interesting. With all the promotion work I’ve been doing, hopefully, there will be some reviews and interviews coming out before too much longer. When they do come out I’ll set up a page here so you can read them if you want. In the meantime…

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

Release Party Recap

This post is a bit overdue,  but I wanted to give you guys a quick recap of the book release party. It was amazing!

The night before the party, my mom and I made a cake that looked like the paint card on the cover of my book.

The afternoon of the book signing, we pulled all the snacks and supplies together, got everyone into the car, and drove to King City Books. We did a little setting up, and then people started coming.

The rest of the evening passed in a flash. At least thirty people showed up! And honestly, I can not thank them enough, the support was amazing! My mom and I were worried we would run out of cake, but actually, we ran out of books! We sold out of Honey Butter copies about halfway through the event.

It’s fun, and kind of weird, to sign your books for people. I practiced my signature a lot before the event.

Fall is almost here. Leaves change color, the air cools. It’s the season for apples and pumpkins and soup and baked things. I think my next book might take place in fall. I’ve started working on it recently, and it’s very refreshing to start something new. I love Honey Butter; it’s a sweet story and will always be important to me,  but I’m a fantasy writer at heart. I’m ready to write about magic and forests and adventure. I haven’t been working too seriously or with a goal in mind, on my next book, but I have been writing it, and that’s always a step in the right direction.

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence

Eclipse

Hey, everyone!

So it has been a couple of weeks since my book was released and things have gotten kinda crazy. Crazy in a good way, mostly. I’ve been getting so much support from the online writing community and from my friends and family around here. Big thanks to all of you!

I’ve also been working on promoting my book, no easy feat since I’ve never done it before. If you’d like to help, leaving a review on Amazon or Goodreads would be amazing! Reviews really help my book.

I also received print copies of my book in the mail recently and it was so rewarding. To really hold my own book and read its words on cream-colored paper. A note to all unpublished writers: holding your book is everything you hope it will be. I’m not going to lie, I cried when I opened the box with my books.

It was also fun to show my siblings the dedication I wrote in the book. I dedicated Honey Butter to them, but I’d wanted to keep it a secret until I got the printed copies. My plan worked. 🙂

On a completely different note, I have a poem to share with you!  You’ve probably heard about the eclipse that happened, maybe you even got to experience it. I hope you did, it was other-worldly.

In case you didn’t, though, I wrote the following poem about my experience. My family drove to a place where we could see a full two minutes and forty seconds of totality. It felt way shorter than that though. I hope you enjoy it!

Eclipse

First, the color drains from the world…

The sky has a pallid gray tint,

As if a lens has been put between us.

The heat of the day evaporates silently,

New air, thin and cool,

takes its place; breezing over us.

Each blade of grass is shaded a brilliant neon.

Excited tension emanates from the watching figures.

They know that every passing second could be the one that sends them into the unknown awaiting experience.

And then it does.

Suddenly and silently the shadows fall,

They pool on the ground

And run into each other

And join together as patches in the blanket of night illusion.

“Look up!” someone says,

and I do.

Almost expecting to see the half-covered yellow dot

In the dark sea

That I’ve seen through my paper glasses.

Like a computer-generated image,

Just a two-dimensional dot on a black screen.

But this

Is so different,

So real,

Exploding into every dimension.

So much like a fantasy or a dream that it has to be real.

A shining band blazes around a jet-black circle.

A fiery, sunset-like crown encircles the horizon in every direction.

Shadows ripple on the ground like the light coming through blinds.

I look into the sky and stare and stare as hard as I can,

Holding onto each moment of the phenomenon around me.

Clasping the world in its strange twilight zone,

as bright as the night of the harvest moon.

In the distance, I hear people shout,

And I’m trying to take a breath of the sky,

I’m trying to drink the shadow of the moon and the fire of the sun.

And that’s when the world starts to shift.

Like a drop of food coloring blooming its shades into a glass of clear water; the darkness recedes and day returns.

It’s as if the sun has blinked, for only a moment.

And the process reverses.

I wonder if this is how time travel feels.

And then it’s as if my mind is eclipsed,

As it tries to hold on to the wonder it experienced,

Just until I can find a pen.

docendo disco, scribendo cogito,
– Millie Florence