how to coordinate metaphors | virtual book

how to coordinate metaphors

#notes #essays #imagery #cohesiveness #writing Mentioned in Four Thousand Weeks (2021), The State of Affairs (2017), how to coordinate metaphors #2

It’s important to keep your metaphors from bumping into one another. Take this passage from Oliver Burkeman’s book

Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals

Four Thousand Weeks (2021)

Time Management for Mortals

by Oliver Burkeman

#reviews #books #time-management #mortality Mentioned in how to coordinate metaphors, how to live in the moment, what I'm doing now

Highly recommend to anyone interested in reading about time management. This book has a radical message for you: give up hope. You’re never going to finish. Relearn what it means to spend your time well. You have very little of it and your anxiety about not wasting it is founded on bad assumptions and impossible standards.

I’d rate this book higher if I had learned more from it. I’ve thought lots about time management.

Sometimes I feel like Burkeman allows himself doubtful claims, but his ideas are interesting and useful nonetheless. His writing is good, but not great.

I enjoyed his anecdotes and references to other works. The idea of pre-clock life blew my mind. I hadn’t thought about the relationship between clocks, time, industrialization, and wage-labor. A great example of fundamental paradigms we don’t question. Pure ideology!


…most of us were raised [to] prioritize future benefits over current enjoyments. But ultimately it backfires. It wrenches us out of the present, leading to a life spent leaning into the future, worrying about whether things will work out…

If we are wrenched out of the present, how are we only leaning into the future? Wouldn’t we be thrown into it?

To coordinate these two metaphors, we need to change the word wrenches or the word leaning. (Or both.) The image of being wrenched out of the present is vivid, but I find the image of leaning into the future more precise.

Burkeman could’ve chosen a word other than wrenches to lead better into the image of leaning. Possibilities include: pushes, nudges, tips, pulls, shifts. We are not limited to physicality, either: action words like coaxes and lures are also viable.

We can’t use leads because that would clash with leading in the second part of the sentence. (Although, if we really liked leads as a replacement for wrenches, we could

revise the sentence

how to revise a sentence

#essays #editing #writing Mentioned in how to coordinate metaphors

Suppose you have this sentence:

It leads us out of the present, leading to a life spent leaning into the future

Conventional writing wisdom would condemn it for using leads and leading in the same sentence. But, more importantly, it doesn’t sound right.

What if we prune leading out of the second part of the sentence?

It leads us out of the present, into a life spent leaning into the future

Now there’s a bit of tension around the comma. You can hear a touch of awkwardness when you read it aloud to yourself.

It leads us out of the present and into a life spent leaning into the future

Is that better? Or is there is still something off? If you’re not sure, leave it for now and read through the draft later.

In the words of writer Verlyn Klinkenborg: Read until your ear detects a problem - a subtle disturbance. Stop there.

to accomodate it.)

To pick a solution, test it against the problem. You know you’ve found a solution when the two images flow into each other or click into place like neighboring puzzle pieces.

If you enjoy analyzing sentences closely like this, check out the last section of

Several Short Sentences About Writing

Several Short Sentences About Writing (2012)

by Verlyn Klinkenborg

#reviews #writing #books Mentioned in how to coordinate metaphors, how to revise a sentence, I'm Glad My Mom Died (2022), what I'm doing now, what I'm doing now

This is my second review of this book. I have to say – it won me over, big time. This time I read a physical copy, and it was worth it. The spacing and formatting of the print gives the book a mysterious aura. You feel you’re conferring secretly with the author about a strange magic that hides in prose. He reveals what he’s learned about teasing this elusive substance into the right configurations. In the same words he explains to you and shows you. Some books about writing are sterile and tedious, but this book is on the other end of the spectrum.

Some of its advice has lodged into my writing brain:

Keep the space between sentences as empty as possible… Most sentences need no preamble - nor postlude.

Avoid writing your sentence. Play with it in your head. The range of possible sentence structures narrows after every word you put down.

Don’t be afraid that you’ll forget a good sentence or a good idea. Trust yourself. If it is important, you’ll remember it.

Lots of worthwhile ideas, many of which aim to loosen rigid rules and challenge habits taught in school. Are transition words and sentences really necessary? Do you trust your reader so little? You can get anywhere from anywhere. It also challenges conventional wisdom regarding “inspiration”, “natural” writing, and “flowing” writing. It gives interesting writing exercises like putting sentences each on their own line to compare structure, length, and rhythm.

I realized on second read that the author asserts in the introduction that this book is not dogma, but a collection of starting points. Also, my prayers were answered: the book contains a healthy share of sample prose.

Very glad I came across this book.

, where Klinkenborg considers “Some Practical Problems” with sentences written by his students.