I am currently working on writing a storyline for a text-based videogame. I am trying to describe how there is very little light coming into the room that the character is entering, as the window is small and dirty.

I had been trying to think of a way to describe a small amount of light, and landed on a water-related term.

Here is how I currently have it worded:

There is a single small grimy window in this room that is allowing a trickle of light through.

The specific phrase that I'm unsure about is "a trickle of light".

Since light is a wave, does it work if I describe it like this, as if it was water? Or does it not work because of linguistic reasons?

If it does not work, I would be curious to know why, please.

  • It's fine. There are a lot of watery metaphors about light, and "a trickle of light" is also used by other authors. See here for how usage compares to some similar phrases.
    – user54131
    Dec 28, 2022 at 7:15
  • Ok, TIL. Thank you @towr Come to think of it, I think I've read a book that had the phrase "river of light" in it. And I'm remembering something maybe about a watery light also in Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth. I should start reading more again.
    – hjpoe
    Dec 28, 2022 at 8:36
  • Hello. I'm voting to close this question. Questions asking for writing critique or what to write are usually only useful for the person asking them, so the Writing.SE community has decided they are off-topic. If you can edit your question to be more general (perhaps about descriptions) I'll consider retracting my vote.
    – Erk
    Dec 29, 2022 at 9:59
  • Hello @Erk I edited my post to try to make it more general about descriptions of light related to water.
    – hjpoe
    Dec 29, 2022 at 22:54
  • And I actually liked the original version better, since it included an example and examples are much more useful to my learning style than general concepts (examples really help me understand things and I'm good at coming up with analogies; general concepts without examples tend to confuse me). I disagree with @Erk and think this is a useful question even if it was phrased as check-a-single-sentence - the broader application was already there, in my view - but the current version is too abstract for me. Unfortunately, I'm not someone who needs to be convinced here, so, Hjpoe, just ignore me.
    – Divizna
    Dec 29, 2022 at 23:33

1 Answer 1


Short answer: Yes, you can do this.

Technically speaking, it's a little metaphorical. As pointed out in the comments, this kind of metaphors, describing light akin to water, is fairly common and established, to the point they may not even feel like a metaphor if someone says that light was flowing into the room, or a character/object/scene was bathing in light.

But even if it wasn't customary, it's fine to use metaphorical expressions in your descriptions, including those you make up that have never been used before. As long as they're comprehensible and fit the mood, don't be afraid of using metaphors in your writing. They're one of the tools you have at your disposal as a writer.

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