Tap the mind-changing magic of metaphor
If crime were a wild beast, we’d be more likely to cage it
If crime were a virus infecting our city, would we treat it differently than if it were a wild beast preying on our city?
Yes, we would, found two professors in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. That’s the power of metaphor.
In one experiment, professors Paul H. Thibodeau and Lera Boroditsky gave participants a report about increasing crime rates in the city of Addison and asked them to propose a solution.
Half the group received this introduction, followed by crime statistics:
Crime is a wild beast preying on the city of Addison. The crime rate in the once peaceful city has steadily increased over the past three years. In fact, these days it seems that crime is lurking in every neighborhood.
The other half received this introduction, followed by the same statistics:
Crime is a virus infecting the city of Addison. The crime rate in the once peaceful city has steadily increased over the past three years. In fact, these days it seems that crime is plaguing every neighborhood.
Make magic with metaphor
Enchant readers with this rhetorical sleight of handIt’s tempting to call metaphor the magic spell in a writer’s repertoire, the Penn and Teller of the page.
Metaphor has the power to persuade far better than literal language. It lets you say in five words what would otherwise take five paragraphs to explain. It makes readers’ brains light up, helps them think more broadly about your message — even (ahem!) gives the illusion that the communicator is more attractive.
But, as with other forms of magic, you’ll want to master a few tricks before you step onto the stage. At Master the Art of the Storyteller — a two-day creative writing Master Class on Feb. 23-24 in Phoenix — you’ll learn what kinds of metaphors work best, which ones can only hurt and where in your message they’ll do the most good. You’ll leave with proven-in-the-lab approaches for charming readers and conjuring more compelling communications.
This is powerful juju: Don’t miss out on our only creative writing workshop of 2016. You can save $100 if you register by 5 p.m. on Jan. 23. Then — poof! — our early bird discount disappears. Register now.