5 Tips for Creating Great Metaphors & Similes
Aaaah, metaphors: they can be a writer’s best friend, or worst enemy (see what I did there?). When done well, they can add a whole other dimension to your writing. But you can’t necessarily just compare sadness to road kill and be on your merry way. Metaphor creation is a honed writing skill.
Before we hop to the 5 tips, let’s learn some terminology with the help of our buddy John Green, and our favorite metaphor from Looking for Alaska:
“So I walked back to my room and collapsed on the bottom bunk, thinking that if people were rain, I was drizzle and she was a hurricane.”
The best definition of a metaphor that I could come up with based on others I read was “a comparison that shows how two mostly dissimilar things are alike in a contextually important way”. So though people are not drops of water who fall from the sky, we learn that Miles feels “subdued” compared to Alaska, because we know how drizzle relates to a hurricane.
Metaphors have two parts: a tenor and a vehicle. The tenor is the actual thing being described—in the above quote, people, Miles, and Alaska are tenors. The vehicle is what the tenors are being compared to: rain, drizzle, and a hurricane, respectively.
Okay! Now that we’ve got that down, let’s get this show on the road: