Thursday, May 17, 2012

Like or As?

How old were you when you first learned about similes and metaphors? I was about ten, and I remember experiencing some confusion over these interesting figures of speech.  While I won't say I've mastered them, I do understand them better now. It is amazing how they enhance our writing, isn't it?

As you know, the simile is a comparison of two things using the words like or as.        
Here are two examples. (Don't laugh, okay? I may still have residual ten year old trauma as I was only able to identify them when I spotted the words like or as.) 

He ran as fast as an antelope.             
Her smile was as bright as the morning sunshine.

The metaphor further stymied my young brain, but I eventually saw how they make a comparison or an analogy, showing the relationship between two things. 

Thank you for not laughing at these examples either.  

Autumn is the relief valve for summer.       

The lake is a shimmering oasis on the landscape.

Metaphors convey a mood, and create a stronger impression than a simile. They provide powerful and stirring images for the reader. 

In her post Inside the Metaphor, Angela Ackerman of The Bookshelf Muse defines a metaphor by saying one thing is another. Angela also tells us how to build strong metaphors, and cites examples for those of us who need more practice (like me!).

Writing similes and metaphors is a great cross training technique. If you feel up to the challenge, check out this link. K.L. Oberst shares an interesting exercise in metaphors that will jump-start even the most reluctant imagination.

How are your simile and metaphor skills? Have you come across any interesting ones lately?  

Anyone care to write one to go with the picture above? If so, please share it!

Have a fabulous weekend,

P.S. The Random Acts of Kindness fun continues with giveaways and more. Check it out here.

Photo credit: Stock Exchange
Copyright 2012, Karen Lange.


  1. I THRIVE on simile and metaphor. I don't think it would be possible for me to write without them. I think it can sometimes become a twitch ...

    Here's mine for the picture:
    My candy are like crayons in a box.

  2. Sorry you were traumatized!

    I pepper in similes and the occasional metaphor, which is more tricky to use. I try to make the similes unique for my characters. One is a aspiring chef, so often her similes are related to food or cutlery.

  3. The gumdrops stretched across the table like a rainbow colored caterpillar inch8ing its way along.

  4. I admit I don't use them much because it's easy to be cliche with them.

  5. The words stuck in my throat like gumdrops.

  6. Jessica,
    I admire that ability to have them flow easily to use in your writing. Did they always come easily for you? I think I "think" too much about making them flow and work. :) Love your example!

    Well, thankfully, I got over it! That's a good tip - taking cues from the character, etc. Thanks a bunch!

    Love it! I wonder what happens if someone snatches one and eats it? :)

    That's why I avoid them too. Well and the fact that they don't flow as nicely and naturally for me as I'd like. :)

    I love this! I like the writing tie-in, too. I may hire you to write my similes! :)


  7. Good question, Karen. I know I like to use them, but I'm not sure how good I am at it. Once again, you've given me food for thought that I'll take and apply to the next column. Thanks!

  8. Great post! I like metaphors when I run across them in fiction, especially when they are embedded throughout a novel in a symbolic manner. However, I'm not very good at using them. I need to work out my metaphor muscles.

  9. I need to use both metaphors and similes more than I do.

    The candy was bright in color like Easter eggs.

    The gumdrops glistened-precious stones in Karen's hands.

  10. I love a good metaphor! I'm not a fan of similes though.
    Don't remember how old I

  11. Rhonda,
    Glad to be of help, although they aren't my strongest skill at all! Looking forward to that column!

    Thank you! I know, me too, like to read them but really need some work in that area!

    Thanks for sharing your example! It provides a great mental image. :) Those of you who shared are very brave. Had this not been the topic, I'd not have written any!

    Me too! Just better at reading them than writing them, lol.


  12. "Stupid is as stupid does." I love that one. I can't think of any original ones right now, but if I did they'd probably have something to do with food. Or poop.

  13. Hello Karen!

    I've not been about the blog world lately, so it was fun to come back for a visit. I always like your posts and am touched by how much you share with other writers.

    I like metaphors very much. I have to go and look at my writing to see if I even use simile or metaphor. If I do, then it hasn't been conscious. I would have a hard time setting out to use them... I think it would be like trying to say something funny on command.

    Oh, I just realized what I did. I guess I did use a simile in that last sentence.

    Lots to think about. Thank you again for a thoughtful post.

    Have a wonderful weekend,

  14. This is exactly why I pay for an editor. And I love spice drops!

  15. I love a metaphor when I read one, although I generally don't write them myself. :-)

    (PS. you won a book on my blog, you lucky lady)

  16. I like similes and metaphors and try to use them in my stories. Great post, took me back to school.

  17. JOylene,
    I like that one too. Isn't there one that says something like "Beauty is as beauty does," too? You make me laugh, friend! Thanks! I needed it this week. :)

    Hello back! Great to see you! I need to get over to your place. :) You sound like me - not so much the conscious writer with them. Hey, we're learning, right? Love the unintentional one!

    Yes, it is worth it, I'm sure! As far as spice drops, I have a bunch here, will send them your way. I got them for a project with my grandson, but no one likes them, so the extras are just waiting for guests who do!

    I don't either - purposely, anyway! Heading over to your blog, thanks so much!

    I imagine that you are good at them! You'll have to share a few sometime. :)

    Happy weekend,

  18. I KNOW the difference and when to use like or as but most people use LIKE in conversation so it's a personal pet peeve when editors try to grammar it up right by changing it to the proper way!

  19. Oops - by changing it in dialog, I mean. It makes characters sound wrong, even if it IS right.

  20. These gumdrops are a sugar-coated caterpillar, waiting to unfurl a burst of flavor in your mouth.

  21. Enjoyed your post on similes and metaphors, Karen! You are right that they do so much to enhance our writing. Thanks for this post.



  22. Annie,
    I can see why that would be a pet peeve! Sometimes those "hard and fast" grammar rules need a little flexibility.

    I love that example! I too, thought of them as a caterpillar, or perhaps toy soldiers. Thanks for sharing!

    Thanks for your thoughts. They really do, and I need to work on them in my own writing.


  23. Words of encouragement, like gumdrops from God...

    Thanks for such a relevant post!!

    Bless you. :)

  24. I am soo jealous of folks who can whip up similes and metaphors in a sort of casual way. I wanna do that! What a super post, amigo. Loved it! Copying and pasting in case I feel the urge to spit one out. (((hugs)))

  25. Hi Karen,

    I often use similes and metaphors in my writing. The word pictures they produce for the reader are priceless.

    Susan :)

  26. I think similes make good writing better.

  27. Your turn not to laugh at me! Here goes:

    The children lined up for recess, their t-shirts as varied in summery colors as a package of gumdrops.

    Thank you for this reminder. I need to use similes and metaphors more often. :-)


  28. I love using similes. I often have to delete them in the revision stage though because I've used too many, lol.

  29. Miles and Miles of S...MILE...S:)

  30. Cheryl,
    That's a good one! Glad you liked the post. Thanks! :)

    Yes, I could be a bit jealous too. :) We should enroll in a simile/metaphor class. For real!

    Yes, you do! You are better at it than I am! :)

    I agree. Thanks so much for coming by and commenting! :) Will see if I can locate your blog and stop to see you!

    I like it! :) I should make a list of all these good similes!

    Ah, if I only had that problem! Seems to me I could learn a lot from you! :)

    Aha, now there's a clever way to express it! Thanks for sharing!

    Blessings all,


Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. Have a blessed day!