I have rather regularly been revising and editing old writing. One thing I have discovered is that I am capable of the most gawd-awful convoluted sentences filled with mangled metaphors and ideas that can only be followed while doing mental back-flips or managing miracles of interpretation. That last sentence is a perfect example of purple paisley prose. Paisley, in case you didn’t know this, is a printed pattern on clothing or other cloth that makes an intricate design out of the basic twisted teardrop shape borrowed from Persian art. The basic motif, the teardrop shape, is a leaf or vegetable design often referred to as the Persian pickle. I write like that. You can pick out the Persian pickles in this very paragraph. Alliterations, mangled metaphors, rhyming words, sound patterns, the occasional literary allusion, personification, bungles, jungles, and junk. “How can you actually write like that?” you ask. Easy. I think like that.
To make a point about mangled metaphors, let me visit a couple of recent scenes in novels I have been working on;
From The Bicycle Wheel Genius; page 189
Mike Murphy and Frosty Anderson sat at the kitchen table eating a batch of Orben’s pancakes, the twentieth try at pancakes, and nearly edible. Mike could eat anything with maple syrup on it… well, maybe not dog poop, but these were slightly better than dog poop.
From The Magical Miss Morgan; page 7
Blue looked at Mike and grinned. It was an impish and fully disarming grin. It made Mike do whatever Blue said, even being willing to eat a lump of dog poop if she asked him to, though she would never ask him to.
So, here’s the thing. Why is there a repetition of the dog-poop-eating metaphor? In one case it is Mike Murphy expressing in metaphorical terms his love of maple syrup. In the other, it is Mike Murphy expressing his love of Blueberry Bates’ dimpled grin. He is a somewhat unique character, but why would anybody associate love with eating dog poop? I don’t know. I just wrote the dang things.
I like to take a convoluted plot and complicate it with complex sentences and numerous running gags, with a seasoned-sauce of mangled metaphors poured on top like gravy. I will use sentences like this either to make you laugh, or give you a headache. I’m almost sure it is one of those. So if you have gotten this far in this post without a headache, then I guess it must be funny.
5 responses to “Mangled Metaphors and Purple Paisley Prose”
Yes, this is a re-post of a 2014 blog post. I have my first vaccination appointment tomorrow and lots of stuff to do today.. And I still write Persian pickles into everything.
Mickey, once the fun in unmangled metaphors? I just like saying “mangled metaphors.” I sound more sophisticated than I am. Keith
You are sophisticated enough to appreciate the concept of mangled metaphors, Keith. That puts you far and away above the sophistication level of most readers. This I know from having taught reading to so many for years and years.
Mickey, of course, auto-correct got me again. “what’s the fun” is what I thought, but that did not make it to the screen. Keith
Yes, I figured it was something like that.