24 votes

How to Write a Good Metaphor

Zoom out. Zoom in. A metaphor claims that one thing is another thing. For that to work, the salient feature you are describing about one thing must be THE most important feature shared and exaggerated ...
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22 votes
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Is using an 'empty' metaphor considered bad style?

It isn't exactly empty; a spreading circle of fire might look like a growing crown; with high fire on the perimeter and no fire in the middle. (But ending with "on its way" throws me, it should be "...
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  • 91k
18 votes

Is using an 'empty' metaphor considered bad style?

This isn't bad style "A crown of fire" is a an evocative statement full of imagery and connotations. Instantly, I can imagine the burning ring of flame, progressing outward and reaching up ...
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14 votes

How to Write a Good Metaphor

It's a brilliant answer from Amadeus (as always). I'd like to add a technique for when you cannot find a metaphor/simile that hasn't already been overused: distracting with detail. For example, say I ...
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  • 9,893
12 votes

How to Write a Good Metaphor

A character's perspective You can use metaphors to provide insight into your character. To borrow Amadeus's example: I want to write Allen returning home to the farmhouse for the Christmas break ...
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  • 221
11 votes

Is using an 'empty' metaphor considered bad style?

It's an "Analogy" Similes and metaphors are types of analogy. It's still a metaphor because of the sentence structure (it's not a simile). When the comparison is really extreme it's called ...
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10 votes

Metaphor or Personification

It is personification. Simile and metaphor are both comparing X to Y, but in different ways. A simile always uses "like" or "as": "The rustling of the branches was like trees whispering to each ...
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9 votes
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Using colors as words

It is done already. Consider: He strode onto the pitch in freshly pressed whites. (Cricket) 'He was clothed in brown rags' doesn't mean he was actually wearing rags. It is quite common to say ...
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8 votes
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Can metaphors be used for other purposes than for stylistic effect and to form an allegory?

Your two categories cover a whole lot of ground between the two of them. But there's at least one other usage that comes readily to mind that isn't really encompassed by either of those. You can use ...
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7 votes

Metaphor or Personification

Both "Personification" and "Metaphor" are correct answers. Personification happens to be the best answer because it's more specific, but it's actually a type of metaphor. Everyone knows what a ...
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7 votes
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Tech-limited metaphors?

I think it is extremely important to keep all content of the book including the narrator not have any anachronism. This is unless it's meant for specific effect like comedy, time travel,or some sort ...
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7 votes
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Can we have 2 parallel allegories inside a story?

There are no rules. Many people read and enjoy stories without looking for or considering allegories. Heck, the Wizard of Oz is supposed to be an allegory for the politics of the 1890's, who watching ...
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7 votes
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Should we avoid "nonsensical" or "unclear" metaphors?

You can't drift off into the distance when you leave a room. Unless it's a really big room. You can drift out of a room, but you disappear rather suddenly, when the line of sight through the doorway ...
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6 votes
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Is there a way to know if a metaphor is bad or not?

I'm not convinced that your comparisons are ultimately the best option for what you're trying to describe, but I'll use them in my explanation nonetheless. (Galastel's answer better addresses the ...
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  • 1,308
6 votes

When is using a simile better than giving a literal description?

When it works. It's not something that has a particular formula. Nothing to count. No threshold to pass or avoid passing. Use your critique group or beta-readers or your favorite alpha reader. ...
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6 votes

Is writing literary devices in a narrative essay (reflective) always good?

Writing can be fine without metaphors or similes or other "literary devices". Your particular writing has problems. Normally we don't do critiques here, but I think for your example this will benefit ...
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5 votes
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What kind of metaphor is "trees in the wind"?

It's Personification. While it is a type of metaphor, this is called personification. The intent here is simply to describe the random movement of the tree branches with a sense of purpose. Although "...
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5 votes

Is having elaborate metaphors ever a bad thing?

Most of your metaphors do seem a bit confusing. Your first example compares parallel rays of sunlight to entrails, but entrails aren't parallel. Your second example compares newly formed clouds to ...
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  • 1,429
4 votes

Is there a way to know if a metaphor is bad or not?

First and foremost, a metaphor needs to be understood. When Shakespeare says "All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players. They have their exits and their entrances", you are not ...
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4 votes
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Is this 'complex' metaphor an oxymoron?

I don't think it is an oxymoron, because the person is talking about two "different" entities. His true self which hides behind the mask. And his day-to-day self which probably has worn the mask so ...
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4 votes
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Are illogical comparisons permitted?

There's no law against it, so of course it's permitted. (In fact, poetry tends to include "illogical" metaphors.) However, you'll have to consider what you want to achieve. An unclear metaphor might ...
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4 votes

Are illogical comparisons permitted?

It would be crazy to expect people to understand weird metaphors (or similes) The question is, would it be crazy like a limp, soggy rug - or crazy like the steel manacles I'm using to keep my old ...
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  • 7,883
4 votes

What are other ways of using metaphors aside using it to describe something visually similar?

met·a·phor /ˈmedəˌfôr,ˈmedəˌfər/ noun a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is applied to an object or action to which it is not literally applicable. You are using a metaphor anytime you ...
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  • 7,495
4 votes
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What do you call a metaphor that describes the opposite of what a thing is?

Verbal Irony From https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irony as soft as concrete or as clear as mud or comedic irony? “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don't.” D. Adams.
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4 votes

Can specific metaphors be interpreted or meant to be interpreted in a vaguer and more general way?

No. If your metaphor is for a woman having sex for the first time, then you can expect your reader to assume you meant she had sex. ‘Losing virginity’ does have a long-standing association with loss ...
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3 votes

Is there such a thing as a "cinematographic metaphor" in novels?

I suspect you mean allegory. It is an ancient device that can be traced back to Homer. It allows for a deeper meaning to be inserted without necessarily announcing it. In the novel The Leopard, ...
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3 votes

Are metaphors superior to similes in the following cases?

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 ...
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3 votes
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Is repeating the action/verb in a metaphor a sign that is a bad one?

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 ...
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  • 538
3 votes

Can metaphors be used for other purposes than for stylistic effect and to form an allegory?

A metaphor allows you to explain something complex, abstract or unfamliar to the reader in a way that they have a good chance of understanding or relating to. You can also use them to evoke sensory ...
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  • 6,497
3 votes

Is writing literary devices in a narrative essay (reflective) always good?

Writing is not real life. It is words on a page arranged to produce an effect, express a truth, or meet any of the many other possible goals of writing. So neither the non-naturalistic eloquence of ...
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