Note: These musings are open to debate and not necessarily set in stone, as I have yet to publish a book, although I am working towards that end. Please enjoy regardless.
Metaphors. You see them everywhere, especially in poetry. Poetry uses it as often as it does because poetry forces our mind to work outside of conventional bounds. If we are working outside of conventional bounds, why think so literally? So we don’t. Things represent other things or are like other things, or something along those lines. But prose uses it as well, although not always so blatantly.
I’m a prose writer. That’s just where my talent lies. I try poetry, as you’ll see occasionally on here, but rhyming and saying things are like other things is harder to me. I prefer a more subtle approach to metaphor. My old English teacher used to tell me, metaphor is the one of the most important parts of literature, but it’s more powerful in subtlety. It means that the reader can enjoy it on a literal and spiritual level. It means the reader can read it once, love it, then read it again and find new things that make them love it even more.
As for writing metaphor, I suppose it depends on the style you’re going for. If you want direct allegory, you can be as blatant as you want. For anime fans, think of “Hetalia”. There’s no question who represents what in that one. Their names are literally “America”, “France”, “Japan”, “Italy”, etc. For less direct allegory, see books like “The Hunger Games”. The Capitol represents big government as a whole, and the series warns of the dangers of such a government through that metaphor.
I’m not saying everything in your book needs to represent something else. But if you want to make your book remembered, there has to be something deeper than the plot, than the characters, than the world itself. There has to be a meaning, other than just writing a good story. Your book must become like an onion, layered, with more to be shown with each peel of the layer.
Are you ready to take that (metaphorical) step into the unknown?