Making the Goals

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During my high school years, I ran cross-country. It took me several weeks of hard work before I could run several miles without stopping. I’d arise before sunup with my teammates, and each day I’d set a personal goal. First, I ran to a certain telephone pole, stop for a breather, then resume my run toward the next goal. For a couple or three days, I did this, then I’d set a more challenging goal, pushing myself hard till I reached it. Of course, I’d stop for breathers. Before long, I reached the point where I could run several miles at a stretch.

To be a successful (and productive) writer, we need goals, too.

First, a writer needs short-range goals. Such goals should be reasonable and achievable. If the goals are too high, and we don’t achieve them, it makes room for discouragement to settle in. These short-term goals should be daily goals. For example: “I’ll write three pages a day,” “I’ll write five hundred words a day,” or something similar.

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Mid-range goals are weekly and monthly goals. Short-term goals should target mid-range goals. If we’re working on a 2,000 word short story, for instance, make an achievable goal of writing five hundred words a day and by week’s end, the story will be written. In the case of my novel writing, I tend to write in scenes. I have a goal of writing at least one scene a week. I write my first draft in a manner most writers don’t—I revise while I write. However, writing books and writing teachers generally discourage this. Since this method works for me, though…hey, I do it!

Which brings me to long-range goals. These are goals writers hope to achieve within a few months or a year. They set short-term and mid-range goals toward achieving their ultimate objective. Want to write a book? Take small steps toward that goal. Determine to write at least one page every day, and by the end of the year a book will be written.

What happens if short-term and mid-rage goals aren’t met? Professional writers understand that things happen. On days when they don’t reach their goals, they plow ahead the next day. They refuse to let discouragement get the better of them.

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Finally, writers use a daily planner and write down their writing goals for each week, or if not this, they use other scheduling methods such as bulletin boards, white boards, or planners on their computers. This helps them track their goal-making progress.

So set some writing goals today, and move forward with your craft!

Metaphors, Part 2, Types of Metaphors

A freshly phrased metaphor used in the correct spot in our narrative can not only touch our readers’ emotions and add depth to our story, it can also paint a more vivid description. In this post, I’ll touch on three types of metaphors, though many more types are out there in the literary world.

The Absolute Metaphor.

Definition: The tenor (subject of the metaphor) has no connection  with the subject’s vehicle (image used in the metaphor).

Example: John is a ticking time bomb.

There is no connection between John and a time bomb. He won’t literally explode. John’s metaphorical explosion, however, might be building to a fit of rage. So there is the connection–an explosion of rage and a bomb’s explosion.

The Mixed Metaphor

Avoid using this one.

Definition: A mixed metaphor combines two or more metaphors that have no logical connection to each other.

Example: Don’t count your chickens before they hatch and swim away.

Chickens hatch, but they don’t swim. Thus, I mixed two images, chickens and fish. We see no logical connection between them.

Robert Frost, circa 1910

The Extended Metaphor

Definition: These metaphors extend for longer periods in a sentence, paragraph, or page by using two or more parallels between two unlike things. They’re often found in poetry.

Example: Robert Frost’s poem, “The Runaway.”

Frost uses a horse experiencing his first snow and the fear that he experiences to  represent a fearful child who has run away from home with no one to  comfort him.

To read this poem and hear it read, visit this link:

I hope this little series on metaphors has been helpful. Thanks for visiting!

Metaphors, Part One, Anatomy of a Metaphor

Figures of speech add spice to our writing. And they’re fun to write. What is a figure of speech? It’s wording something in such a way that it shouldn’t be taken literally. For example:

John is a ticking time bomb.

John isn’t literally a ticking time bomb, but metaphorically he is if he’s about to “explode with rage.”  

Metaphors are the strongest of all figures of speech, and they come in many types. If they’re written well, they’ll draw us deeper into our story because they’ll touch our emotions.

What is a metaphor? A metaphor compares two different things, saying one thing (or person or place) is something else.

Using our above example, let’s analyze a metaphor. It consists of two parts, the tenor and the vehicle. These terms were coined by famous English poet and rhetorician, I.A. Richards (1893-1979), in his work The Philosophy of Rhetoric.

John is a ticking time bomb.

Here, John is the tenor: the subject of the metaphor. And he’s compared to the vehicle, time bomb: the metaphor’s image.

We’ll delve deeper into metaphors next week.