A strong metaphor has an unparalleled ability to convey meaning. We understand new things by relating them to things that we already understand. A metaphor does this for us, like comparing a new book to a classic.
Be careful, though. If you've heard a metaphor many times before, it might be a cliché. Although clichés help convey meaning, they don't improve your writing—they usually make it worse. Instead, create a fresh metaphor that adds value and conveys meaning.
Still, finding the perfect metaphor is like dating; you might reject many before finding 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 from your life which parallels your subject. 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 fables. These are often extended metaphors aimed at teaching moral lessons. Some writers even use metaphors as the basis for entire books. 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. Dickens frequently uses houses as metaphors for the people who inhabit them. For example, in Great Expectations, Mr. Jagger's office is used to illustrate his dark and gloomy personality.
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Next improve your writing tip: Improve Your Writing Tip #15: Keep it short.