If you want to add some life to your writing, to give it breath and a heartbeat, use metaphors. They’re the lifeblood of any vibrant, vivid writing, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction.
I’ve been using metaphors in my writing with great success over the last several years. It marks a significant improvement in the quality of my writing, and I’ve garnered more and better opportunities. Whether there’s a connection between the two, I don’t know.
I’m a big fan of metaphors, and I like them better than similes. From the Greek, metaphora means to transfer or to carry over. It basically carries a comparison from one idea or item to another.
There is one difference between metaphors and similes: similes use the words like or as in them, metaphors do not.
- Life is like a box of chocolates. (Forrest Gump
- There was a great shout like the roaring of an airplane.
- Similes are like metaphors, but only weaker.
- All the world’s a stage. (Shakespeare)
- Strength and dignity are her clothing. And she smiles at the future. (Proverbs 31:25)
- “Men’s words are bullets, that their enemies take up and make use of against them.” (George Savile, Maxims of State)
I don’t like similes. They’re weak. They’re the pencil-necked milksop of literary devices. They say things are similar, but not quite that item. Life is like a box of chocolates, but not really.
Take a look at the last metaphor example: “Men’s words are bullets.” That’s a powerful phrase. It doesn’t say they’re like bullets, that they remind people of bullets, or “words can hurt people sort of like bullets can hurt people.” That’s just smarmy, wishy-washy pap.
“Men’s words are bullets,” on the other hand, makes you feel the the emotional damage that can be done by words, feeling the piercing, crashing power of a bullet fired from a large gun.
If you want to make your writing more powerful and add more life to your words, sprinkle some metaphors into your articles and watch what they’ll do for you.