Consider the Onion


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Consider the Onion

By Nandy Ekle

This is not a cooking lesson, or a nutrition lesson, even though I am a pretty good cook, and know enough about nutrition that I raised three kids to health adulthood. But I want to consider the onion as a metaphor. And this is nothing new. Onions have made famous metaphors for time out of mind. I just feel like it’s my turn to consider the onion.

A lot of people don’t like onions in their food because they’re so strong, maybe a little hot on the tongue, they make you cry when you cut them up, they smell bad, and some people claim to get headaches when they eat onions (maybe because of the smell). But these are exactly the reasons onions are needed in our diet.

And so, as writers, we will examine the onion as an ingredient for our stories. First of all, they have layers. Some onions have what seem to be thousands of layers. And our stories should also have layers. The more layers we have in our stories, the better. We want thick, strong purple layer on the outside to get the reader’s attention, but we also want the thicker, juicier layers the deeper we go. This is the flavor of the story. And we want the very center, the core, to be so soft and sweet, so heart gripping, that our readers weep with every cut they make closer to the center.

We also treasure that smell. Now, it is true that an onion’s odor is not really a perfume we want to go to the store to buy. In fact, it has the reputation of being one of the worst smells in the world. But really and truly, isn’t that how we identify that it’s an onion? But then, we add heat to it, and guess what happens. The smell and the flavor change to something so mouth watering we can’t wait to eat.

So there you go. Add heat to your story. You can add a slow, all-day heat and watch the story turn different colors before your eyes. Then when your reader eats it, it will melt in their mouths and they won’t be able to stop reading. Or you can apply high fast heat, which will bring out the sweetness quickly, causing your readers to beg for more, more, more.

And then there’s the tears when you cut the onion. And when your readers cut to the middle of your story, what could be better than a good cry?

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.

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Love Is A Rose


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

Love Is A Rose

By Nandy Ekle

 

My favorite writing tool is the metaphor. This is the comparative device that shows, not tells. So here are some metaphors I’ve used, and I would love to hear about some you may have used, or seen someone else use.

Liquid mercury. Remember the old-fashioned thermometers you had to hold under your tongue, or in your armpit, or . . . somewhere else? Those little tubes contained a silvery ball of mercury that would rise when heated by your body to a line on a graph that showed what your temperature was. If one of those little glass tubes broke, the mercury fell on the floor like liquid beads, except you couldn’t pick it up. If you tried, it would change shape and roll away. This always reminds me of something that might be hard to grasp, sort of like an idea . . .

Love of books. Reading books is as much a need for me as breathing air. I need that quiet time to myself to let my imagination out to play. As a kid, my imagination ran full speed all the time and I had to learn to put it in a box during the times I was expected to pay attention to the real world. But as a writer, my imagination is a very important thing. However, it tends to shrivel up if it’s not used. And that’s what books do for me. So to illustrate this, I thought about a character from a book that falls in love with his reader. Not only does this show how much I need books in my life, it also shows that books need readers.

Spiders. I am proud to admit that I am a confirmed arachnophobe. To me, spiders are the absolute worst nightmare that ever crept on the face of the earth. While this irrational fear can be paralyzing in some situations (depending on the size of the monster), it has also given me some excellent stories. After all, who can write about that kind of fear better than someone who experiences it? So it’s in this vein I use it as a metaphor to illustrate things that are paralyzingly scary, such as a character who has an arrogant attitude and must learn to put his ego aside to save his family from a devious creature that has invaded his home to terrorize his children. The spider actually represents his fear of inability to protect the home.

So, go ahead and tell me about some of your favorite metaphors. Just post a comment down below, and don’t worry about being long-winded or short winded. I love to hear from my readers.

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