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Writing Better Lyrics, 2nd Edition by Pat Pattison

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CHAPTER THREE

MAKING METAPHORS

Metaphors are not user-friendly. They are difficult to find and difficult to use well. Unfortunately, metaphors are a mainstay of good lyric writing — indeed, of most creative writing. From total snores like “break my heart” and “feel the emptiness inside” to awakening shocks like “the arc of a love affair” (Paul Simon), “feather canyons” (Joni Mitchell), “soul with no leak at the seam” (Peter Gabriel), and “brut and charisma poured from the shadow” (Steely Dan), metaphors support lyrics like bones. The trick is to know how to build them.

In its most basic form, a metaphor is a collision between ideas that don't belong together. It jams them together and leaves us to struggle with the consequences. For example, ...

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