You can’t argue with the Publication Coach, Daphne Grey-Grant, when she encourages writers to use metaphors. “They add interest, colour and power to your writing,” she says. “As readers, we all do better when we can visualize something concrete.”
I keep a file of great metaphors (and similes – thanks, Gloria!) to use as inspiration. Here are a few I’ve spotted that appealed to me:
- “Three infants crawling around the house like Labrador puppies.” – Daphne Gray-Grant
- A wine that is “well crafted for the money and widely available – the Honda Civic of white wines.” – Wine writer Beppi Crosariol in the Globe and Mail
- “Imagine thousands of brands, stalled like cars in Friday afternoon traffic.” – MarketingSherpa
- “As spindly as a mantis” with “his black mock turtleneck…bunching up like a flag on a listless day.” – Writer Tom Junod in Esquire magazine, talking about Apple CEO Steve Jobs
- “I am the planet’s most affectionate life-form (something like a cross between a golden retriever and a barnacle).” – Author Elizabeth Gilbert in Eat, Pray, Love
- “One group stands out, with conversation as relaxed as a lingering autumn twilight.” – From an article by Deborah Carr at Homemakers.com
- “Showing a smiling face to a typical Web customer is like showing a crucifix to a vampire.” – Gerry McGovern in a Ragan article on web users.
What’s your favourite metaphor? Have you run across any great ones lately?
I disagree that this one is good: “As spindly as a mantisâ€ with â€œhis black mock turtleneckâ€¦bunching up like a flag on a listless day.â€ The flag image is mixing metaphors & trying too hard. Some of the others are great, though. And not to get technical, some are similes. But we know what you mean. “Conversation as relaxed as a lingering autumn twilight” seems particularly elegant.
I knew someone would call me out on metaphor vs. simile! Thanks for seeing that the point is the creative use of words.
It’s certainly not as elegant as “lingering autumn twilight,” but “spindly as a mantis” sure conjures up an image that fits the one the writer was trying to create of Jobs looking ill. And I should point out that the image of the flag was in a different paragraph.