How to Use Analogy to Write More

How to Use Analogy to Write More

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Analogies are comparisons of two things that are similar in structure. In writing, you will sometimes find you have written an article or story that could have been very different but the same in structure. You can use that. Do the extra writing. Write the second article or story. As long as you’re not using that structure exclusively it’s no harm no foul.

An Example from University

In my final year of university, I had the research and writing part of my honors thesis completed at the start of the year. I only needed two other courses. One was a course in Criminology. The other was an introduction to existentialism. The first semester of existentialism covered many positive and negative existentialists but didn’t take a lot of time. The second semester was all about Heidegger.

Martin Heidegger was the greatest of the positive existential philosophers. He was banned from teaching by the Nazis because he didn’t support their full philosophy. After the war, he was banned from teaching by the allies because he had once written some of Hitler’s speeches. He’s been accused of being a Nazi because he was once in a Nazi faction. The faction opposed Hitler and he had a Jewish girlfriend. I don’t believe his philosophy is a problem. If you’re interested in an overview of his philosophy, check out my recently posted article, Heidegger’s Search for the Meaning of Being. Back to the analogy.

I over-studied in university. By the time final exams came around, I had read dozens of extra books by and about Heidegger. I had also done some extra reading in Criminology. If you read the Heidegger article, you’ll have noticed his philosophy goes a long way toward explaining human behavior. Both the Criminology and Heidegger exams were on the same day. I knew the Heidegger exam would be something like “Explain Heidegger’s philosophy in ten pages or less” while the Criminology one would be short answer and a few short essay. On the days leading up to the two exams, I was thinking about Heidegger’s philosophy a lot because I would need to write it from memory. That Heidegger article is something I wrote after the exam that mirrors what I wrote then as close as possible.

The analogy part is that I used Heidegger’s philosophy to explain criminal behavior in the short essays on the Criminology exam. I got an A on both exams. Analogy can be useful and hidden even from experts in a field.

An Example of Analogy from Blogging

I read an analysis of Dante’s “Inferno” when I had blogs on both writing and psychology. The explanations of different types of character failure really sunk in. I could see how they applied to both psychology and the psychology of characters in a novel. I wrote two analogous sets of articles.

The writing articles were on character change in fiction. They are Character Change: Detachment, Character Change: Addiction, Character Change: Greed, Character Change: Anger, Character Change: Cruelty, and Character Change: Betrayal.

There weren’t as many psychology articles because I felt the last two character types were too far gone even to be looking for a solution to their problems. Those articles are Overcoming Detachment, Overcoming Addiction, Overcoming Greed, and Overcoming Anger.

The analogy here is obvious. Have there been other analogies I’ve used in my writing? Yes, indeed.

Other Analogies Used in My Blogging

These examples aren’t strictly analogy, but they are what I mean when I say that you can use analogy to write more.

At one time I considered writing a “Daily Motivational” site with very short positive psychology articles posted daily. Each night when I went to sleep, I thought about what I could write for an article in the morning. Each morning I wrote an article. That went on for a month and then I decided I would rather write something a bit deeper and stopped. Some of those articles are on my Psychology blog.

Another “almost” analogy was when I wrote a few pulp fiction stories using its standard formula. The formula is to create a tough hero and a scene with them; then a tough villain and a scene with them; then an unresolved conflict where the villain escapes; and finally a conclusion where the villain is killed or arrested. I wrote several stories and then went back to my novel.

In each of the four examples of analogy above, the writing was made much easier because of the analogy between the type of things I was writing.

Can you use analogy to write more?


Article by Ivan Izo.


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