Simple Steps to Writing Metaphors

A great metaphor can jolt an image to life, bringing color to the scene of your story. Sometimes these metaphors flow spontaneously from our creative brains to our fingertips. But other times we get stuck and they sound forced. That’s when the reader stops reading because he doesn’t see the connection and you’re hosed. He’ll close the book. When in doubt, skip the metaphor.

But, in the meantime, practice writing them. Here’s an exercise that might help. I found it in Writing Fiction Step by Step, by Josip Novakovich.

Use nouns. Let me show you.

See this dog here? (I want him! Isn’t he cute?) Use the noun dog to make a metaphor.

The dog is a  ______________.  Use another noun to fill in the blank.

I’ll try.

The dog is a navigator, eager to lead the way. Fill in the blank with ten different nouns. Pick your fave.

Let’s try again:  The dog is a beast, hairy with claws and a guttural growl.

Once you’ve mastered this, move on to show likenesses.

Fido’s teeth are like _______________.       The dog’s paws are like _________________.

Max’s  breath is like _______________.       The dog’s eyes are like __________________.

Stop and read your sentences aloud. Can you visual the comparisons? Do they interrupt the flow of your story?

For today’s challenge write a metaphor using the photo above.


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  1. Monica C. says:

    People often say that a dog is a man’s best friend, but to me, Charlie was so much more. Charlie was an intrepid adventurer, a loyal ally, a solemn guardian, a pillow when I tired, and a rag for my tears. Charlie was warm when I was cold and happy when I was sad. We went everywhere together, and when he died, it was like losing my left arm.

    • That rocked! You’re the winner so far. Ha! I love Charlie and I love your metaphors. You compared him to a pillow, a rag, a left arm, a guardian and an ally. Well done! I hope your day is as bright as the sun today. Thanks for contributing.

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