Five-Minute Writing Tip: Angry as a Snake on Steroids
Metaphors and similes are words of comparison used to paint a vivid mental literary picture, bring prose to life, and — often — show how clever a writer can be. A metaphor says that something is something else. It is a direct comparison: “He’s lion-courageous.” A simile does the same, except the word as or like is used: “He’s as courageous as a lion.” I like to think of similes as softer comparisons. In conversation, we often use metaphors and similes that have become clichés, but when writing for publication, it’s a good idea to be original.
Here are a few examples:
It’s raining sheet-metal screws. [metaphor]
My bicycle tire is as flat as a dollar bill. [simile]
We’ve got to leave for the airport now, so dig yourself out of the sofa. [visually humorous metaphor]
Her red hair shone like a blazing fire. [simile]
Life’s a one-time shot; don’t miss. [metaphor with bit of humor, maybe]
The Wicked Witch of the West was as angry as a snake on steroids when she saw Dorothy wearing the ruby-red slippers. [simile]
Ichabod Crane is as thin as toilet paper. [simile]
“Everybody’s got a hungry heart.” [Springsteen metaphor]
“I am the vine; you are the branches.” [John 5:15 metaphor]
“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” [Shakespeare metaphor]
“Life is like a box of chocolates.” [Forrest Gump simile]
Metaphors and similes should be used sparingly, otherwise readers become disenchanted or just plain bored. I like to use my favorite dessert, bananas Foster, as an example: bananas, butter, and bourbon, sautéed and poured over vanilla ice cream — what’s not to love? [metaphor] If I could be assured those extra calories wouldn’t blow me up like a balloon [simile], I’d eat it every day, but I’d probably grow tired of it after a week, or a month.