after you read this blog post, you'll feel as awesome as someone who has read this blog post before

Ah, metaphors and similies.  Never underestimate the power of these tools to add flavor to your writing, much like the Spam in a mini Spam nacho burger.  When done well, they can make complicated or intagible things feel real and understandable to your readers, like a refreshing mint that their brains can suck on.  And don't you want your readers to have minty-fresh brains?

But when they go wrong... well, let's just say you don't want to be caught dead mixing metaphors with a ten-foot-pole.  And sometimes, instead of making things more clear, they just distract from what you're trying to say, the way a cooked pig face distracts you from enjoying your pulled pork at that backyard BBQ where your dad insisted that it would be "so cool" to roast an entire pig and all you really wanted was to hang out with your friends in a setting that didn't give you PTSD flashbacks to SAW XIVVIXVI.

But alas, similies and metaphors are difficult things to master.  Without further ado, I present to you a short list of the best (er... worst) of their kind:

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
(Jack Bross, Chevy Chase)

He spoke with the wisdom that can only come from experience, like a guy who went blind because he looked at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it and now goes around the country speaking at high schools about the dangers of looking at a solar eclipse without one of those boxes with a pinhole in it.
(Joseph Romm, Washington)

From the attic came an unearthly howl. The whole scene had an eerie, surreal quality, like when you're on vacation in another city and "Jeopardy!" comes on at 7 p.m. instead of 7:30.
(Roy Ashley, Washington)

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
(Chuck Smith, Woodbridge)

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.
(Russell Beland, Springfield)

Her vocabulary was as bad as, like, whatever.
(Jennifer Hart, Arlington)

Bob was as perplexed as a hacker who means to access T:flw.quid 55328.com\aaakk/ch@ung but gets T:\flw.quid \aaakk/ch@ung by mistake.
(Ken Krattenmaker, Landover Hills)

John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
(Russell Beland, Springfield)

The thunder was ominous-sounding, much like the sound of a thin sheet of metal being shaken backstage during the storm scene in a play.
(Barbara Fetherolf, Alexandria)

The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
(Malcolm Fleschner, Arlington)

The revelation that his marriage of 30 years had disintegrated because of his wife's infidelity came as a rude shock, like a surcharge at a formerly surcharge-free ATM.
(Paul J. Kocak, Syracuse)

They were as good friends as the people on "Friends."
(Katie Buckner, McLean)

Her eyes were shining like two marbles that someone dropped in mucus and then held up to catch the light.
(Barbara Collier, Garrett Park)

How about you?  Any faves from this list?  Any particularly bad ones that your minty-fresh brain has invented?

(Examples taken from The Washington Post Style Invitationals, here and here.)


  1. I cannot think of any because the mental image of the pig face is currently occupying all coherent thought...

    However, totes agree with you on this. Personally, I am a fan of metaphors/similes that are unusual but not distracting. Like "black as tar" instead of "black as night" (even though that's a really weak example).

    Looking forward to more, fellow Jessica! :)

  2. Ha! Yes, my heartfelt apologies for the pig face... it was the best-worst example I could think of.

    "Unusual but not distracting" is where it's at. "Vomit-inducing" possibly less so. :)