Writing a good simile, one that looks effortless and trips off the tongue like a tongue-trippy-off thing, is an art in itself. Overwrite it and the reader finds themselves thinking things like ‘What? What does that mean?’, write it flat and the nefarious cliché will sneak in and probably cause havoc. Context is also incredibly important when using similes – sometimes you do just need to say ‘tears fell like water’ and ‘the storm hit like a hammer’.
This nudge is to get you thinking about the way you use similes and what you write. We’ve included a few juicy ones to get you thinking.
‘I was cold as a new razor blade’ (L Cohen)
‘The lighthouse looked like a living creature[…] like a seahorse, fragile, impossible but triumphant in the waves’ (J Winterson)
‘Though morning light and evening light come, like echoes, friable as gunfire and faith’ (M Khalvati)
‘His voice reverberated like the slow millstone of London’ (T Hughes)
‘Jotters, exercise books, rulers stacked like grave goods on the shelves’ (S Heaney)
‘Snow pulled back from her hands like mist at sunrise’ (T Pratchett)