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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.