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Go for the metaphor

If you want your reader to really remember something, to think about an idea afresh, or simply to stop and take note, then summarise your point in the simplest, clearest, shortest words possible. Short sentences add emphasis. Then say the same thing again — but this time as an extended simile or metaphor. (The two are basically the same – both are comparisons – but similes contain the words ‘like’ or ‘as’, and metaphors don’t.) It’s like wine-tasting notes. First, you sum up your opinion of the wine, then you explain: ‘This wine is seriously lively. Zingy, herbaceous notes of lime and green apple ripen to passion fruit and peach.’ Then you hit the reader with the exotic, memorable and revelatory comparison. ‘It’s like licking sunshine off a gooseberry bush.’

James McConnachie
11 April 2018

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