I am new to creative writing, and have been trying to come up with a metaphor to illustrate the difficulty of doing in an environment where everyone is acting against you. So far, I have come up with the following metaphors:

"like trying to run up a hill in rollerblades"

  • I don't care for this metaphor because it doesn't highlight the human factors that cause the hostile environment. A hill is inanimate object.

"Like trying to trek through Antarctica in a tee-shirt and flip-flops."

  • I don't care for this metaphor because (once again) it doesn't highlight the human factors that cause the hostile environment.

Do you have any suggestions of how I can achieve my goal of writing this metaphor?


3 Answers 3


I think you’re looking for a simile rather than a metaphor, so I’ll answer on that basis.

You say that your similes don’t have the desired effect because the hill and the arctic are inanimate. So to make your simile, you could pick an animal that has a reputation for being hostile, or creating a dangerous environment in some way. Your choice of animal will depend on what aspect makes it dangerous and how this ties into the way people are acting against you. Off the top of my head, it could be like trying to swim through a river of crocodiles (implying individuals are out to tear you to pieces), or it could be more like being mown down by a herd of stampeding buffalo (implying being unable to stand up to a lot of people who share an opinion that you are trying to fight against).

Plants could work as well, if they have a reputation for certain behaviour, for example, a creeper that tangles you up, or a venus flytrap that lures you in.


A few ideas:

"It was like fighting a ninja in the black of night." While this one isn't great, it was the first thing I thought of. It has a chance.

"I/He was Neo, up against a million Smiths." As a self-titled Matrix nerd, I like this one as it's an allusion to an iconic scene from Reloaded. It shows the difficulty, and also is direct way of showing everyone being against him.

"It was a marathon run through hell, and I/he was forced to wear his winter clothes." Kind of an inverse of your second example, and is slightly more human like you were asking for. Not perfect, but a half-decent idea.

"I/He was in the Minotaur's maze." My personal favorite of this list. Another allusion, this time to Greek Mythology and the story of Theseus. The Labyrinth is clearly a hostile place, and that's because of the Minotaur, a physical and animate enemy (unlike gravity or the cold in your examples).


Picture your hero's situation. Keep the key principles of the situation as you switch details - if the hero's goal is a societal change, don't substitute a personal achievement; if other people's resistance stems from overbearing worry, don't substitute xenophobia (just like you've already found out that if the obstacle is people's deliberate action, then substituting inanimate environment doesn't work). Come up with a model that makes the relationships you want to point out clearly obvious. Omit what is irrelevant. Exaggerate.

I deliberately won't include any examples because the person who needs to be creative here is you, and giving you a dictionary of pre-wrought options to choose from would be doing you a disservice.

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