Analogies and Metaphors Paint Images for Readers

[tweetmeme]“Buzz is already taking a chunk out of Twitter, Facebook, and other social media services. That’ll only grow as brands and advertisers better understand what they can do with Buzz and its millions of users. Buzz is equivalent to throwing a giant super magnet into a room filled with nails.Like throwing a giant super magnet into a room filled with nails

I don’t know about Buzz challenging its rivals, but this paragraph is a lively example of how analogies and metaphors enrich our writing and paint images for our readers.  Buzz is like a giant super magnet attracting new users – a powerful visual image.

Writers often confuse analogies and metaphors.  In a story on the CBS News Opinion page “Political Analogies Are Like Toothbrushes,” the headline is an analogy comparing two dissimilar things to clarify a point or create an image. Something is like something else. Then throughout the article the writer mistakes analogies for metaphors in which one object becomes another object, i.e., “Obama is Abraham Lincoln in 1860.”

This is probably nitpicking, because my point is that analogies and metaphors can enhance our writing.

I decided to re-read a few of my past blog posts to see how I might improve them with an analogy or metaphor.  Here’s one that I think could be better (italicized words added):  “This is a golden opportunity for companies to find out what customers are looking for and to respond to their needs directly one-to-one, like a good mother responds to her child’s need for a hug.”

Here’s another blog about the importance of facial cues in business:  “We’ve all had the experience of talking to someone who gives us absolutely no facial or verbal cues.  It’s like trying to get a response from General Lee’s image on Stone Mountain.”

A writer is a like a painter, using imagery to entertain, provoke and educate with the fervent hope of not being a bore.  Your thoughts, good readers?

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  1. When I was a junior PR professional working on your team many years ago, I was like an anxious puppy nipping at your heels, desperate for you to teach me. One of the first of many times that you edited one of my press releases you said “the best quotes evoke an image in the reader’s mind.” Here you are more than 10 years later reminding me to think of words as a box of colored pencils and the blank screen as a canvas. It’s a lesson that never goes out of style like a little black dress. Next, can you write a post on the “Doctrine of Completed Work?”

  2. Amy — Well, you certainly learned well! You are a very successful entrepreneur and did it yourself. So you should be really proud of your accomplishments. Good suggestion about the “Doctrine of Completed Work.” I think I’ll do a post!

  3. Nice blog a lot of informative content, I will be back . I just want to give my opinion on astrology if I may. I feel very at peace now with my life, the direction I am going and the knowledge that yes, things are a little difficult now as far as getting the vocation/career thing to my satisfaction, but that in the near future, a more dynamic energy will manifest and I will then be able to manifest my vision.