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People are afraid of similes and metaphors. From high-school English class, they may recall that these are literary techniques and they include using “like” or “as,” but first-time and  (perhaps) only-time writers are often not sure which is which. Even those further along in the writing journey can get confused.

Well, similes and metaphors are a challenge, for sure, but so is riding a bicycle or skating. Most people manage to master these. The same is true of any literary technique. You can master what you decide to master—even if you may not achieve a proficiency that would win you the Nobel Prize in Literature.

The article below can help you to make you way through the minefield of similes and metaphors and turn them into a garden of delights. (These two—”minefield” and “garden of delights”—are metaphors, by the way!)

Stop the scary stuff!

Ok, let’s make these figures of speech do-able.

When you think of a person, an action, a setting or a thought, what comes to mind? Your sister-in-law who is always critical may make you think of the snarling rabid fox you once saw in your back yard. Or, perhaps your acerbic brother reminds you of an indigestion that you have to wait out and then go your own way.

These impressions can be expressed either as similes or metaphors.

If you use “like” or “as” they are similes, and if you don’t, they are metaphors.

Metaphors are stronger.

Metaphors are stronger because they engage your imagination more. With the introduction of “like” or “as,” you take the reader out of the fiction of your story. (Remember your goal is to entice the reader to believe s/he is living the story with your protagonist, side my side.)

In conclusion

Do keep in mind that your use of a simile or metaphor will distinguish your writing.

The article below explains at some length much about similes and metaphors and I do not want to take its impact away by repeating too much here. Let the post help you to improve your memoir writing by using these literary techniques.

similes and metaphors

Similes and Metaphors: Don’t Let Them Scare You!

“I don’t quite know how to describe what I’m feeling,” you might say during your writing as you grope for a way to describe in words this emotion that is beyond words. There is a solution to this dilemma that writers often resort to—but too many writers are sure they can’t handle it. The solution? It is the use of images, specifically similes and metaphors. These will bring your text to a level beyond words.

Not sure how to handle these literary techniques? Not to worry. The following article explains much. You will read examples of similes and metaphors and learn the difference between similes and metaphors.

1. A simile is a comparison that uses like or as.

When you say, “Life is like a merry-go-round”, you are making an image we call a simile—even if it’s not a terribly original one. It’s a simile, too, if you write, “I’m busy as a bee.” In a simile, because of the use of like and as, it is clear that the writer is making a comparison. Here is an example of a simile:

My love is like the red, red rose/That’s newly sprung in June, /My love is like the melody/That’s sweetly played in tune.   —Robert Burns

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