Successful metaphors and similes bring a literary passage to life. But metaphors and similes are not always effective. In a recent GCSE English paper, there was a question that asked for a short story which had to include examples of metaphors and similes. Here is a choice selection of extracts from candidate’s work:
1. She walked into my office like a centipede with 98 missing legs.
2. His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a tumble dryer.
3. Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.
4. She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.
5. The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.
6. McMurphy fell 12 stories, hitting the pavement like a paper bag filled with vegetable soup.
7. Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the centre.
8. The dandelion swayed in the gentle breeze like an oscillating electric fan set on medium.
9. Her vocabulary was as bad as, kinda’ like, sorta, whatever.
10. He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.
11. The hailstones leaped from the pavement, just like maggots when you fry them in hot grease.
12. Long separated by cruel fate, the star-crossed lovers raced across the grassy field toward each other like two freight trains, one having left London at 6:36pm travelling at 55mph, the other from York 4:19pm at a speed of 35mph.
13. The politician was gone but unnoticed, like the full stop after the Dr. On a Dr Pepper can.
14. John and Mary had never met. They were like two hummingbirds who had also never met.
15. 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.
16. The red brick wall was the colour of a brick-red crayon.
17. Even in his last years, Grandad had a mind like a steel trap, only one that had been left out so long it had been rusted shut.
18. Shots rang out, as shots are meant to do.
19. The plan was simple, like my brother Phil, but unlike Phil, this plan just might work.
20. The young fighter had a hungry look, the kind you get from not eating for a while.
21. He was as lame as a duck. Not the metaphorical lame duck either, but a real duck that was actually lame. Maybe from stepping on a land mine or something.
22. She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.
23. It came down the stairs looking very much like something no one had ever seen before.
24. The ballerina rose gracefully en pointe and extended one slender leg behind her, like a dog at a lamppost.
25. 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 cashpoint.
26. It was a working class tradition, like fathers chasing kids around with their power tools.
27. He was deeply in love. When she spoke, he thought he heard bells, as if she were a dustcart reversing.
28. She grew on him like she was a colony of E. coli and he was room temperature British beef.
29. Her voice had that tense, grating quality, like a first-generation thermal fax machine that needed a band tightened.
30. It hurt the way your tongue hurts after you accidentally staple it to the wall.
31. Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.
All of these similes and metaphors “fail” in amusing ways although some include genuinely brilliant observations.
Which is your favourite?