Writing with metaphors—is it worth the hassle?

The short answer? Yes!

The reason why writers use metaphors is to paint a picture or put the reader in the scene in an instant. It’s a powerful way to show rather than tell.

I noticed that when I use metaphors in my writing—for example in my weekly emails—I get loads more replies.

So I set myself a challenge this year: 1 original metaphor every day for a WHOLE YEAR.

Never miss a metaphor: SUBSCRIBE

The metaphor writing challenge 

Yup, that’s right. This metaphor writing challenge should lead to a list of 365 unique metaphors before 2023 rolls around.

And I’m sharing it all with you so you can position yourself as the creative genius you are.

Each week I’ll update this post with:

  • 7 more metaphors you can use to inspire your writing
  • All the thinking behind them so you can come up with even more
  • A template for making them your own.

Ready to step up your metaphor writing game? Let’s go!

Week 1

Strategy

There’s a poem I’ve loved ever since I was a kid called ‘The Tale of Custard the Dragon’.

This line was the inspiration this week…

“Belinda was as brave as a barrel full of bears.”

Template

First, pick the human characteristic you want to describe. In the example above it’s “bravery”.

Use this template to make it your own:

“{surprising vessel} full of {symbol of chosen characteristic}”

Metaphor writing tips

You’ll have the most success if you can think of things that are commonly known but aren’t commonly used in this context. AKA— don’t rely on clichés like “pillar of strength”… yawn.

Working in other literary techniques makes this even stronger. 

Alliteration – repeating the same sound at the start of each word

Puns – wordplay

Assonance – repeating the same sound in the middle of each word

Pattern interrupt – surprise plot twist

List of metaphors

Date Metaphor Meaning
1 Jan Egg carton full of slugs Disgusting/unappealing
2 Jan Rainbow made of hugs Joyful
3 Jan Eleven legions of lions Bravery
4 Jan A thousand Schwarzeneggers Strength
5 Jan Tall glass of justice Just
6 Jan Bunch of baby beagles in a basket Cute
7 Jan Meditation retreat full of mindset coaches called Śavāsana Self-aware

 

Week 2

Strategy

This week I focused on colours. Did you know there are 18 decillion colours in the world? That’s a long list of metaphors right there.

As you walk around the world take note of what things are what colours and incorporate that into your writing.

Template

First, what colour is the thing you’re describing? In the example for yellow below, it might be an ugly yellow jumper. But that description doesn’t paint an image in our mind.

So what kind of yellow was it? Perhaps, stomach bile?

“{another thing that’s an exact colour and makes us feel something} {colour}”

Metaphor writing tips

See how the above example evokes a feeling as well as a visual. That’s the power of great descriptive writing.

List of metaphors

 

Date Metaphor Meaning
8 Jan Witch-cat black Descriptive colour black
9 Jan Dutch field in springtime, toddler’s mouth after cordial Descriptive colour red
10 Jan Stomach-bile yellow Descriptive colour yellow
11 Jan Hummingbird’s chest Descriptive colour green
12 Jan Cappuccino foam Descriptive colour white
13 Jan Cookie-monster blue Descriptive colour blue
14 Jan Fairy-floss pink Descriptive colour pink

 

 

Week 9

Strategy

This week was all about textures. When I was a kid, I used to get these dreams that were made up entirely of textures. Being able to make your readers almost physically feel your writing is pretty powerful stuff.

To make it even more powerful I decided to stack metaphors, but putting together 2 surprising interpretations of the same texture.

Template

First, what texture is the thing you’re describing? In the example for spiky below, it might be a piece of uncomfortable clothing or someone’s demeanour. 

Think of 2 other spiky things and add them together in a surprising way.

“{spiky thing 1} wrapped in/covered in/meets/with {spiky thing 2}”

Metaphor writing tips

The more strikingly different the 2 things are the more interest it adds to your writing.

List of metaphors

Date Metaphor Meaning
1 Mar Italian leather shoes fresh off the shoe-shine stand Smooth
2 Mar 3-day old stubble on a winter-dry leg Rough
3 Mar Bubble wrapped in a kiss Soft
4 Mar Niagara falls meets Lake Como Wet
5 Mar Dehumidifer in the desert Dry
6 Mar Cactus giving you side-eye Spiky
7 Mar Hilton pillow made out of clouds Fluffy 

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Zhuzh your writing with metaphors

Each week I’ll enter my top 7 metaphors from the week. Follow the fun by subscribing to my weekly email.

You’ll also get plenty more practical ways to write more engaging and useful copy.