Writers utilize figurative language because it helps us express abstract ideas in an effective manner. Typically, this tool triggers familiarity and emotions. It attracts attention, arouses action, and crafts concrete details.
One of the easiest forms of figurative language is he simile and metaphor—since they’re siblings after all.
I’m a fan of the simile. Let me tell you, like and as litter my page. It’s fun to create comparisons. Unfortunately, too many of those in a small space are really obvious. That distracts from the original intent of using figurative language to begin with.
That’s why I say to give metaphors a chance.
Besides, they provide stronger connections than similes do. I’ve actually been told their akin to lies, thus implying the strength of using them.
I could prattle on for a long time trying to explain why they’re more effective; therefore, I’m just going to show you.
Heh, showing verses telling, right?
Simile: Her lips were as sweet as candy.
Metaphor: Her lips were candy.
Simile: Metal twisted like a ribbon.
Metaphor: Ribbons of metal twisted.
Simile: She sparkled like a diamond.
Metaphor: She sparkled diamond bright.
On a small scale, these are easy transformations. Others, if implementing some of my other writing/editing tips—liking nixing to-be verbs—these can extend to eliminate the need for an example, which is what similes offer us.
Simile: He had a heart like stone.
Metaphor: When I reached out to touch his heart, my nails scraped and broke, leaving only a dirty residue on my fingertips.
Simile: I am as fast as a cheetah.
Metaphor: My paws thunder against the ground, spraying grass behind my tail as I race for my prey–the finish line.
Simile: He eats like a pig.
Metaphor: Slop gushed from the corners of his mouth, leaving a trail down his hairy chin before pooling on his belly. Snout snuffling as more slop slurped in: gushing, trailing, pooling.
With a little more space, these become strong images that fog the line between figurative language and a simple description. These are the kinds of metaphors that deserve a little more consideration.
They can generate props, create reminders, weave larger threads together, and extract a reaction from the audience that is otherwise untappable.
In all, similes and metaphors are both useful. But when like or as litter you page, give metaphor a chance.