A strong metaphor has an unparalleled ability to convey your meaning. We understand new things by relating them to things that we already understand. A metaphor does this for us; like putting a round peg into a round hole, and a square peg in a square hole.
Be careful though, if you use a metaphor that is common place then you are using a cliché. Although a cliché will help convey your meaning it will not add interest to your writing, and may actually detract from it. Instead try and think of a new, fresh metaphor that will serve the dual purpose of adding interest and conveying meaning.
When writing a metaphor make sure that it is a strong metaphor, and properly conveys the meaning.
Finding a good metaphor is one of the hardest parts of good writing. Finding the write metaphor is like dating, you may have to reject many before you find the right one, and when you find the right one you'll know it.
A good metaphor doesn't have to be short. Think of an event that has occurred in your life which parallels what you are trying to explain. It may take a while to explain but it will make your point clear and help relate it to the reader's experience. This is a technique that many writers of otherwise boring, technical material use to add interest for the reader. Also think of the parables in the bible. These are just extended metaphors aimed at teaching a moral lesson. Some writers even use a metaphor as the basis for a whole book. This type of extended metaphor is known as an allegory. For example, Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory of the events leading to the Russian Revolution, and intended as a critique of Stalin.
Dickens frequently uses houses as a metaphor for the people who inhabit them and to capture the essence of a character's personality. For example, in Great Expectations, Mr. Jagger's office is used to illustrate his dark and gloomy personality.
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