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Example:

She didn’t reply; just stared at us vacantly. She might as well have been observing two squirrels that had invaded her yard.

As you can see, the action stare/observe has so be repeated for the metaphor to work. Is that a sign of a bad metaphor?

Should I write this instead?

She didn’t reply; just stared at us vacantly. I suddenly felt as if we were two squirrels that had invaded her yard.

  • Actually, these seem to be more of similes than metaphors... – SF. Nov 5 '14 at 7:31
  • @SF. I think a simile is a type of metaphor: google.com.tw/… – Alexandro Chen Nov 5 '14 at 7:55
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    ...also, I wouldn't say such repeating makes it a bad simile. It certainly makes it weaker, less expressive, but I wouldn't go as far as "bad". – SF. Nov 5 '14 at 10:01
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    A simile is an explicit comparison, often with comparative particle ("as", "like"): "Thou art more lovely than a summer day". Think of the sentence as a mathematical formula: you > summer day, or: we = squirrels. In a metaphor, one structural relation is replaced by another: (a) light provides warmth and illumination, (b) love provides emotional well-being, => metaphor: "Lolita, light of my life, ...". – user5645 Nov 5 '14 at 12:05
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    How about: We might as well have been squirrels gathering acorns in her yard, for all she cared. Or change the ownership of the metaphor: I've paid closer attention to squirrels rummaging in my yard. (Although, personally I find squirrels funny and interesting, and like to watch them. So your metaphor/simile doesn't work too well for me.) – dmm Nov 6 '14 at 6:28
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Is that a sign of a bad metaphor?

No. It's fine.

And of course you're the author - it's up to you what you write. From this point of view there are no 'bad' metaphors.

But I know what you mean and no, your example would not usually be considered poor English usage.

You may be thinking of (in-)elegant variation or pleonasm.

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