0

Here are the examples. The first version is the simile and the second the metaphor (I'm not sure, though, what kind it is).

We faced away from each other awkwardly, as if we were on the first date we never had.

We faced away from each other awkwardly, portraying the first date we never had.

My past rejection, his present sweetheart, my future surgery, all that swelled up inside me until I burst like a water balloon.

My past rejection, his present sweetheart, my future surgery, all that swelled up inside me until I burst into tears.

He held my hand and examined it, as though wanting to read our future in it.

He held my palm and examined it, perhaps wanting to read our future in it. (All right, this one isn't a metaphor. Not sure what it is.)

Are the metaphoric version of the sentences superior to their similian (just made up this word) counterparts? Why or why not?

closed as unclear what you're asking by Standback Jan 4 '17 at 13:30

Please clarify your specific problem or add additional details to highlight exactly what you need. As it's currently written, it’s hard to tell exactly what you're asking. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • @Philipp Okay, I'll edit the question after someone tells me what they are. – alex Jan 4 '17 at 12:40
  • 1
    I'm sorry; this question is very unclear. What you're calling metaphors mostly aren't metaphors. You're asking which is "better," but: better how? You aren't telling us what it is you're trying to accomplish (and rephrase requests, i.e. "which of these sounds better", are off-topic). I think you've got a substantial question here, but we're going to get noise and mismatched answers until we figure out what that question is :P So I'm closing the question for the moment; you can edit it, we can discuss in the comments, and then I'll be happy to reopen :) – Standback Jan 4 '17 at 13:30
  • 1
    1. Are you looking for the definition of "metaphors" vs. "similes", or do you know what each one of them is? 2. When you ask "which is better," can you explain what you mean by that? Do you feel that either of them is wrong, that one of them might be bad somehow? – Standback Jan 4 '17 at 13:32
3

We faced away from each other awkwardly, as if we were on the first date we never had.

A hypothetical or conditional, not a metaphor.

We faced away from each other awkwardly, portraying the first date we never had.

Description.

What you want is:

We faced away from each other awkwardly, two shy teenagers on the first date we never had.

Next one:

My past rejection, his present sweetheart, my future surgery, all that swelled up inside me until I burst like a water balloon.

That's a simile. Great!

My past rejection, his present sweetheart, my future surgery, all that swelled up inside me until I burst into tears.

Figurative language leading to a description. You can physically "burst into tears." The people and events are not physically inside you.

He held my hand and examined it, as though wanting to read our future in it.
He held my palm and examined it, perhaps wanting to read our future in it.

Both of these are the narrator projecting or wondering what the other person is thinking. Not figurative or metaphorical.

A simile always uses "like" or "as": "The rustling of the branches was like trees whispering to each other."

A metaphor uses symbolism. It's something which can't be literal: "Their hissing gossip was the rustle of tree branches: indistinct, indecipherable, far above my head."

As far as which is "superior," that's mostly a matter of word choice and flow. I think your similes are better here, but a metaphor might be better elsewhere.

1

Your examples of metaphors aren't actually metaphors. They are straight descriptions of what's happening.

Let's take a slightly modified form of the second example:

My past rejection, his present sweetheart, my future surgery, all that made me burst like a water balloon.

If you would like to write this as a metaphor:

My past rejection, his present sweetheart, my future surgery, all that made my hull burst and my water flow all over the place."

Metaphors read as if they describe something which is actually happening. But what the metaphor describes doesn't happen. It's just a symbol for what is really happening. But this example doesn't make sense at all, does it? That's because you are reading it out of context. But if you provide enough context, for example by establishing a "feeling like a balloon" metaphor earlier (for example by repeatedly using it in form of a simile), this sentence would make sense to the reader.

What we learn from this is that similes are "metaphors lite". By adding "like a" or "as if" in front of a metaphor, we prepare the reader that what comes next is not to be taken literal. This remove the necessity to provide the context which is necessary to recognize the metaphor as what it is.

  • well, yes, the first example is a simile/metaphor. The rejection (event), sweetheart (person), and future surgery (future event) are not literally inside the speaker and the speaker is not literally exploding. So it's metaphorical. In fact, you've tried to make the second example read more literally, not more metaphorically. – Lauren Ipsum Jan 4 '17 at 13:05
  • @LaurenIpsum Yes you are right. "swelled up inside me" is a metaphor. I didn't recognize that. I rewrote it slightly to remove that metaphor. – Philipp Jan 4 '17 at 13:07

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.