What is a Simile?
A great story is like the prize in a Cracker Jack box: you never know what you’re going to get, but it’s going to be fun finding out.
That was a simile comparing a story to the prize everyone looks forward to in the Cracker Jack box. You could use the following simile to evoke a different meaning and emotion to the same concept:
A disappointing story can be like the surprise hidden in the box of cereal: you stick with it to the very end, only to find a cheap plastic trinket.
Why You Should Use Similes
Similes can be found in all types of writing, from journalism to fiction to advertising. They’re creative ways to bring more attention and clarity to your meaning than straight narrative.
If you want to give your reader a thoughtful mental image while they’re reading, a simile is a great place to start. When you compare your main character to an animal or even an inanimate object like a giant sequoia, you’re exposing your reader to another way of looking at something that’s fresh and new.
Similes and Metaphors Are Different
Don’t confuse a simile with a metaphor. Similes compare two objects using the words “like” or “as,” and metaphors make a direct comparison between two very unlike objects.
Simile: John was like a giant sequoia, massive and sturdy.
Metaphor: John is a giant sequoia, massive and sturdy.
They can be very similar, but sometimes it makes more sense to compare two things with a “like” or “as” than it does to insinuate John is a tree.
Similes tend to be more direct in their comparisons, while metaphors can be more subtle. For more information about creating awesome metaphors, check out How to Create Fantastic Metaphors”.
You don’t want to trot out the trite similes that have been overused though. Try to create a comparison that’s unique and fresh. Here’s a list of some similes that have lost their charm from too much playing time:
- As busy as a bee
- As blind as a bat
- As black as coal
- As brave as a lion
- As strong as an ox
- As easy as shooting fish in a barrel
- Slept like a log
- Dead as a doornail
- Stand out like a sore thumb
- As cold as ice
- As hard as nails
- As innocent as a lamb
- As sweet as sugar
- As tall as a giraffe
- As white as a ghost
And this list could probably go on ad nauseam, so I’ll stop now. Suffice it to say that you can be cleverer than those old stand-bys.
We’re Challenging You to a Duel
Rather than keep hitting you over the head like a Whack-a-Mole game (very lame simile), let’s start a simile challenge. You come up with a clever way to say “blind as a bat” and submit it below.
Best simile wins our highest regard and kudos from everyone at ProWritingAid.