Monday, January 18, 2010

Who's Afraid of the Big, Bad Metaphor?

I might be the only one who, somewhere in their writing career, was told by a wayward soul with good intentions that only bad writers use similes and metaphors... but somehow I doubt it.  The same person who gave me this tidbit of misinformation probably misinformed a whole lot of other souls in their quest to destroy the written word.

Let's get this straight: there is nothing wrong with using similes and metaphors in your writing.

In fact, they are a few of the powerful descriptive tools you have in your writer's toolbox.  Unfortunately, a good thing can turn ugly pretty quick if you get stuck using cliches!

Some cliches, for example:

Smart as a whip.
Sharp as a tack.
Quiet as a mouse.
Light as a feather.

A good tip a writing professor gave me is to study the character you're using the metaphor or simile to describe in order to come up with one that will do its job without sounding too cliched.

For example:

Your character is a seamstress by profession, and you'd like to describe her anxiety level.
She was wound as tight as a bobbin.Or maybe she is a cyclist?
She was strung together like spokes on a wheel.

Or perhaps she's a boxer?
She was as tense as a fist ready to strike.

I didn't say they would be out of this world, but at least they're mildly original!

Try it sometime...

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