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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Holy Hyper Hyperboles

I love learning and writing. There is one aspect of writing that is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. Using Hyperbole.

Hyperbole is to make a point using extreme exaggeration. It’s also a fun word to say.


If I were writing non-fiction I wouldn’t be using hyperbole. They are generally used in fiction and media. They can add humor and character to a story. However, as with all good things, moderation is key.

Like metaphors and simile’s, hyperboles are comparisons, however, they are ostentatious in nature even ridiculous. It’s not recommended to take them literally or one might find the scenario quite hilarious.

Using hyperboles in literature shows contrasts. One thing is described with an over-statement and the other is presented normally. This is a catchy technique used to keep the reader reading.  For example, “He’s as skinny as a toothpick.” The overstatement is the toothpick and the normal is him being skinny. “He is skinny.” Works just fine, but it’s more entertaining to add “as a toothpick.”

Bringing a boring section of the story to life with a hyperbole is fun.

Here are some examples

I’ve said it a thousand times.

I’m so hungry I could eat a cow.

I have a bazillion things to get done.

I have a ton of work to finish.

His breath was so bad it knocked me over.

I think those make it clear.

So how about an example? Okay since you insist.

Amber stood before the full-length mirror naked. She poked at her still flat tummy and pouted. “I’m going to get as fat as a whale.”

Dale looked her over from head to toe. “What do you mean going to?”

She laughed, grabbed a purple pillow and threw it at his head. “Jerk.”

“You could put some meat on, you’re nothing but skin and bones.” He tossed the pillow back.

“I swear Dale you’re dumb as a stump sometimes.” She squealed as he grabbed her by the waist and tickled her ribs. “Stop, stop I give in.” She laughed and fell back on the bed pulling him with her. “I’m glad you’re not boring and tease me.”

Dale leered at her breasts. “Oh, I’ll tease you all right.” His wicked grin made her try to get away unsuccessfully.

I probably wouldn’t put that much into one conversation, but that was kinda fun. I know I use hyperboles regularly. Not so often, it’s annoying but there are times when a character is flustered or excited and spouts one out. I don’t know if I use them in narrative… I might have to check that.

My advice about Hyperboles.
Why not use one to spice up a statement so boring it put the entire world to sleep.


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It’s a personal thing

I learned something interesting recently. It is something I was already doing, however, now I have a better understanding of how to make it work for me. I’m talking about personal items. The things I keep around me reflect who I am and what I like. This goes for anyone and everyone including characters of a story.

Personalizing the space around a character can tell you a lot about a person in a very short time. It can give a person opportunity to exhibit a bit of personality. Things that are common but can be very personalized.

Personal things that can strongly suggest a personality or like/dislike
Keychains (Big opportunity here)
Clothes (Like a sports team or band concert shirt)
Tidy or untidy desktop
Scuffed shoes
Personalized pens
Nail polish/hair colour
Handheld electronic devices
Ringtones on cellphone
Computer desktop wallpaper

Not going over the top, I’ll have Cal interact with three different people.

Cal walked into the office stopping at Ralph’s desk. Cal was the new guy here and paying attention was paramount. Ralph nodded at him pointing at the obvious phone to his ear. Cal smiled and surveyed his desk. Ralph’s Mexico calendar had the days crossed off with a big circle on the twentieth. A stress ball and an Acapulco coffee mug sat among stacks of files. He set the receiver down.
“How can I help you? Detective Thorn.” Ralph said his name like a question.
Cal smiled sweetly at the tired man. They had met three times already, though his apathetic attitude spoke volumes.
“Two more weeks before you go scuba diving in Mexico Ralph, I’m envious. Do you have the evidence report on Cowen that was sent to the Judge for me?” 
He had it, the question was would he give it to him right away.
“It can’t come soon enough Detective.” Ralph rifled through the stacks on his desk. “Well soak it up and do nothing important, only fun. You deserve a little R and R.”
“Oh, I plan on it, Detective.” Ralph smiled handing him the file.
“Thanks, Ralph I appreciate how fast you got this for me.”
“No problem.”

Someone like Ralph is unhappy about work, tired and looks forward to his yearly jaunt to Acapulco enough that Cal’s small talk about his trip would go a long way. Now compared to someone with a clean and tidy personal memento free workspace.

Cal approached Nancy next knocking on her open door and waiting for her permission to enter. “Detective Thorn.” She nodded at him to sit as she straightened her keyboard and put her pen back in the holder. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”
“I got a call this morning that Baylor Cowen got out on bail.”
“Most unfortunate.” She laced her fingers placing her hands before her on the desktop. “The judge is not on our side it seems.”
“What is it going to take to get her under investigation? The evidence was solid.”
“So was your fist Detective. A black eye and a greased palm were enough to get him out.” She tutted once. “That being said I cannot fault you, I would have enjoyed seeing that man go down. If you want to look into the Judge and her decisions, I’ll see it approved. Have Nunez start combing the records.” Her curt nod was his dismissal and he stood and left. ‘No nonsense Nancy’ he had been warned on his first day at the precinct to be straight up with her about everything.

The no-nonsense Nancy would not appreciate small talk and would respond better to matter of fact straight to the point conversation.

Cal stopped at the evidence room before leaving. Trish was biting the end of her Party-Harty pen and the faded club stamp was still visible on her wrist. She sat up straighter when she saw him.
“Good morning Trish.” She blushed furiously at his use of her name.
“Good morning Detective you’re here early.”
“How’s that new club you said you were going to on Saturday?”
“Oh Club Hyperbole? It was a blast, great music, glow in the dark shots and lots of hot guys.”
“Glow in the dark sounds fun.” He gave her a charming smile and leaned on the tall counter. “I have to go see a witness this morning.”
“Lucky witness.”
“Would you happen to have an original printout of the evidence from the Crowen Case? Before it was submitted to the Judge or Crowen’s Lawyers?”
“I sure hope so.” She took out her key-chain with a clear pink mini martini glass dangling from it. She unlocked the cabinet and rifled through.
“Lucky you too.” She photocopied it and handed him the copy.
He took it with a wink. “Thanks, Trish.”
“For you? Any time Detective.” She watched him walk away.

Flirty objects on or around a person might suggest they are open to or respond best to flirting or personal remarks. My only caution with this type of interaction would be to be aware of personality. While Cal is a detective and likely to see these clues, Sasha would not necessarily be so in tune. Not everyone is a sleuth or intuitive, and not everyone has the personality to pull each interaction off without coming across as smarmy or as an opportunist.

This is also a good way to give the reader a better insight to the protagonist through the eyes of another character say if they visit their home.

My advice about personal items.
I wouldn’t say to use them for everyone all the time, just if you need a snapshot into someone minor or when introducing someone new. Instead of the standard head to toe description with a telling of who they are and how they fit in, try showing who they are in a first impression style.


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