Adding Metaphors for Clarity

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Adding metaphors for clarity is an art by itself. Like analogies, metaphors and similes do wonders to help readers understand difficult or abstract ideas. They explain the unfamiliar with some thing familiar or show something commonplace in a new light.

Here a writer helps us look at the Internet in a new way:

The Internet in the 1990s is just like the railroads in the 1840s. It is still in is infancy, its growth is exploding and no one yet knows how to make money at it. It also performs the some economic function : connecting things. And there is no more potent force than connecting buyers and sellers. The gross product of an economy, after all, is nothing more than the sum of all these connection. The more buyers and sellers there are, the greater the wealth generated. That’s why the railroad was the seminal invention of the 19th century and the Internet will undoubtedly be of the 21st. (
John Steele Gordon : The Golden Spike)

Metaphors and similes enrich your writing with vivid comparisons. But they can also serve as a kind of shorthand that helps you explain a point you want to make.

Here are three vivid comparisons:

  • Promoting novels in a sound – bite culture is like selling elephants from a gumball machine. (Barbara Kin Solver)

  • Too much money attracts administrators and experts as sugar attract ants. (Wendell Berry)

  • Sometimes it seems as if everyone wants to compete with the Jewish tragedy, in what an Israeli friend called the Olympics of suffering. (Ian Buruma)

  • And here’s one of our favorites:

  • Exercise is like money. It’s good for almost everything.

  • Other Pages in This Section :

  • Illustrating General Statements with Specific Examples

  • Making Your Readers See Something

  • Putting People in Your Writing

  • Choosing Concrete Words

  • Successful Writing Index

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