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  • Jordan Keller

What I Learned At Writing Group: Upgrading Similes & Metaphors



I was a heavy user of cliches in my writing. It was so easy to use a saying everyone knew to get a point across and move on, but it’s also lazy and your reader won’t appreciate it. Learning how to make your similes and metaphors work for you is a great tool to keep in your writing arsenal.


Before continuing, let me be clear: Don’t stray away from similes and metaphors! Just make them more personal to your writing.


Make those similes work for you– let them build your character and your world.


If your main character loves fishing, then let their similes and metaphors reflect that.


If your world is covered in flowers, let the character’s voice show that.


Here’s an example for your fisherman:


If he’s waiting in line at the KwipTrip and the person in front of him is holding up the line by chatting, he could think “This person is a windbag.” Which does get the point across, but nothing else. He could instead think “This person could put a big mouth bass to shame.” This gets his feelings across to the reader and also shows his character and interests.


In your fantasy world covered in flowers, your characters’ daily expressions could all reflect that. “She’s feeling blue as a cornflower,” or “He’s growing taller than a Zinnia” both express an emotion with the normality of using flowers in everyday conversation.


This is also a fun way for your characters to think and problem-solve:

If your character is a chef, they can compare situations to complex recipes.

If your character is an engineer, they can break every problem down into building steps.

If your character likes music, they can relate sounds to their favorite songs.


Your characters are their own people and should have their own thoughts. Unless speaking in cliches is their thing, which would be kind of fun to see how many you could fit into a book.


All in all, though, make those similes and metaphors work for you.






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