The reason we write metaphors is to enrich the meaning of what we are trying to express, give it more color, and have our readers create more of an emotional connection with what we are expressing. We can always convey ideas in ordinary language and at times that is simpler, but metaphors add another dimension to what we are communicating. Metaphors create powerful imagery in the minds of our readers and the readers connect with the visuals of ideas rather than our logical explanations.
Since Shakespeare is the best writer of all time, let’s look at an example of a metaphor written by Shakespeare. Here is a quote:
“Love is a smoke made with the fume of sighs.”
This is one of the all-time great lines of writing. The main metaphor and idea of this line is that love has many sad experiences around it. But if we say it that way, it’s unemotional and uninteresting. It’s clear that where there is love there is also breakup, longing, disappointment, longing, and many other negative emotions. But this is a boring and a long way to write. Shakespeare does all this in one line by using a creative metaphor.
If you want to write metaphors, here is a video tutorial on how to write metaphors with examples from Shakespeare and other great writers:
Here is another metaphor from my own writing that I didn’t think was great, but people like:
“Stuck in swamps of the mundane.”
My readers told me that they immediately connected with the idea of swamps of the mundane because it was relatable.
Steps You Can Take To Come Up With Your Own Metaphors
When you are trying to create metaphors, almost close your eyes and think about the imagery that comes to mind when you think of something. That imagery is the beginning of the metaphor you will create.
Step One For Creating A Metaphor
For example, try to write about something you fear. Close your eyes and see what imagery comes up in “your mind’s eye” so to speak. For me, one of the images is howling wolves at night. That would conjure up fear if I was in a forest. For you, that image might be different. There can be hundreds of interesting metaphors for fear without expressing that you are afraid directly.
Step Two For Creating A Metaphor
I can think of dozens of visuals per concept. That part can be relatively easy. The next stem in creating a metaphor is to write your ideas down and test them to see whether you feel that they are interesting or overdone. Many images will not be interesting because they are quite overdone. You want to sift through your ideas and look for new and fresh perspectives on an idea you are trying to convey. This is a process of elimination. After taking out the uninteresting metaphors, you should be left with the cream of the crop images to choose from with which to create your metaphor.
Step Three For Creating A Metaphor
After narrowing your potential metaphors down, your goal will be to write out how you’d describe the image you are trying to convey. Your first draft won’t be pretty. The goal of the first draft is to just have something on paper. Once you’ve expressed it in a basic way, the next step is to edit and refine it until it’s short, clear, and connects with people. During this process, you can brainstorm it with other writers and show it to people to gather feedback.
If you liked the video above with a tutorial on how to write metaphors, and if you found this tutorial interesting, here is my full FREE course on how to write poetry:
Songs With Metaphors
If you are writing music or are interested in listening to music with rich metaphors, here is an article where I go over songs with metaphors and provide an analysis of some of the metaphors in those songs.
For example, here is a song of mine where I took a number of famous lines from Shakespeare (including the one mentioned above) and added to those lines into an original contemporary song:
Poetry Book With Metaphors
I also created a fun and interactive way to listen to music and read its poetry at the same time. I compiled all my poetry and my translations of Russian poetry into a poetry book with songs in which each poem is accompanied by a YouTube link that has that poem as a song so you can hear how music really brings out the ideas of the songs.