Metaphor-3-2-1. Go.

I’ve been writing about comparisons. Similes and Hyperboles. There are many types of comparisons in writing. Today’s is Metaphors.  While technically Simile and Hyperbole are sub-types of Metaphors, Metaphors on their own are different.

Metaphors are figures of speech that make a hidden or implied comparison. Unlike similes that use words such as ‘like’ or ‘as’ Metaphors make a more subtle comparison.

A metaphor comparison is between two things that are unrelated but share some common characteristics.  What I mean is a resemblance is made between two different or contradictory objects that’s based off common characteristic.

When I portray an action, person, place or thing as being something altogether different. A well known example of this is “She is the black sheep of the family”.   The person is not actually a black sheep but a black sheep is different from the herd of white and would be kept or would stay away from the herd. Thus suggesting she is unlike everyone in her family in some obvious way.

Some more examples that are used often in literature:

He’s a night owl
Has the eyes of a hawk. (This could be a simile if written: ‘has eyes like a hawk.)
You’re an early bird. (Apparently I recall the bird metaphors easily…)
Lost in a sea of sorrow
The sound of coffee brewing is music to my ears

Metaphors are most commonly found in songs and poetry. Both try to convey a strong visual and emotional connection between two things in a creative way. I don’t write poetry as it’s not my strong suit so I’ll do what I do best. And I love me a good metaphor.

Valery chewed the hangnail on her finger as Cal took notes. “I don’t know what else to say Detective, Sasha’s life was an open book. She didn’t keep anything from me.” She frowned. “Except the nature of Baylor and her involvement with you.”

Cal looked up from the pad. Valery had no idea what they’ve been through and for good reason. It was a nightmare of events.  “Every bit helps. Finding the connection between your boss Clifton and Baylor Crowen is groundbreaking. Now I can investigate Clifton and see where his chains link up to.”

“Can we do anything? It’s frustrating to think he took her as a trophy.”

Cal stood. “With this information I can get a warrant for his computers personal and office. It will cause some disruption.”

“I’ll keep fishing around for information. I don’t care if they have to shut this place down Detective. My heart is broken over this. Please just find her.”

Cal nodded and swallowed hard. He lived with the stench of failure every waking moment. Had he been more aware; this wouldn’t be a problem. Sasha would still be with him and safe. “I’ll take the city apart brick by brick if I have to.”

Metaphors are easy to write if you remember to not use as or like as you would in a simile. They are passports to creativity. They do add a certain flavor to a story by improving the imagery one conjures when reading. I do think they can be hard to spot since so many writers use them. I know I do. I love them. If tucked away nicely they don’t jump out on the page, but add to the ease or flow.

My advice about Metaphors.
As writers, words are the windows to our souls.  Metaphors make dull sentences fly off the page. They splash our imaginations with imagery.


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That’s So Simile

When writing I often use a simple yet effective way to compare things. Similes. Going back to grade school here. A Simile is a figure of speech directly comparing two things.

Similes explicitly use words to connect: Like, than, as, so and similar verbs. Quite often similes are used to compare something living with something not.  These are often used to inspire humor, stark visual or comparison for effect.

Unlike Hyperboles a simile is a realistic and often visual inducing comparison.

For example.

His hug was like being wrapped in a warm sweater
Tom’s comment fell flat like a slashed tire.
A tear rolled down her cheek like drops of rain down a window pane.
The meatballs were as round as baseballs.
The show was as exciting as watching dust collect.

The idea is evident. I think when I write I tend to use similes in a sarcastic manner. Especially if they are in dialogue. I would have someone sassy say something sarcastic in a simile fashion. Sometimes I just like to say something or have them say something wacky and off the wall.

Dale stood over Amber’s Shoulder as she typed the message for the Territory Clothing company’s proposal reply. With Sasha gone she had been given more responsibilities and was flourishing with them.

“You’re in my space.” Amber said not breaking her typing.

“You type as fast as piranhas picking a carcass clean.”

“Gross and thank you.” She smiled. Dale had a way of complimenting her that wasn’t the usual pandering boring fluff.

Scott approached Dale and Amber at her workstation. They’ve been inseparable lately, like industrial Velcro. Dale had bailed twice now on guy’s night. Amber was a problem. He smiled and set her mug of tea down. 

“Just the way you like it. Hot enough to nearly melt the mug.”

“Thanks Scott.” Amber smiled. Scott was trying very hard to make up for his blunder.

I enjoy a good simile if it’s clever and fits the story or character. I don’t enjoy too many of them in novels. Poetry is sprinkled liberally with them like sugar on a cookie.

I often see simile and hyperbole mixed and interchanged. Even on websites claiming one or the other. I simply think; simile is a similar comparison why hyperbole is a hyper or exaggerated comparison. I’m sure there are those that disagree or say they are the same. Meh. I just like to know the difference when I plan to write them into a story.

My advice about Simile.
Writing a simile is like composing a mini poem in one sentence.  

What are your favorite similes?


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