Similes are frequently used by writers to incorporate concrete imagery (such as boxes of chocolates) into writing about abstract subjects (like life). When compared to a metaphor, which is generally more lyrical and delicate, readers are more plainly aware of the direct connection that is being made with a simile. For example, instead of saying "music has the power to heal" with no reference to chocolate or doctors, you could say "chocolate cures all ills" or "Doctors can be like music therapists who work with patients using sound." These statements make clear that what is being said about healing is similar to what is being said about music and doctors.
There are two main types of similes: subjective and objective. Subjective similes compare one thing to another person's experience - for example, "her voice is like sweet music". Objective similes show a direct comparison between things that aren't necessarily similar - for example, "his eyes were like stars". It's important not to mix up these two types of similes or else your message will come across as confusing to readers.
When using similes in your own writing, it's helpful to know how they're interpreted by readers. If you want your readers to understand your comparison better, try using different words in place of certain phrases to avoid repetition - for example, instead of saying "his eyes were like stars", you could say "astronomically huge".
To compare, similes employ the terms "like" or "as." Metaphors distinguish themselves by stating that something is not the same as something else. Both allow the author to accentuate, exaggerate, and add interest to their work. They paint a vivid image in the imagination of the reader. Using metaphors and similes effectively allows the writer to describe things beyond what can be seen with the naked eye.
Metaphors are used to explain concepts that cannot be expressed adequately using ordinary language. For example, when trying to explain how music affects people, one could say, "Jazz is the lifeblood of New Orleans -- blood without blood vessels is useless -- and it keeps the city alive today." One does not simply say "People dance in New Orleans during Mardi Gras -- it's a part of their culture." The author is comparing jazz to blood and using it as a metaphor for the effects of music on its listeners.
Similes are similar to metaphors in that they use comparison to explain abstract ideas, but they do so by stating that two things are equal to each other. For example, one could say that jazz is like blood to New Orleanians because both are vital to their culture and both need to be played regularly if you want people to dance at Mardi Gras.
Authors often use comparisons and similes to make their points more clearly and entertainingly.
If used correctly, a simile conjures up an image in the reader's mind. Similes provide flavor to a piece of literature. They can also be humorous in order to interest the reader, but sometimes they are just required to correctly depict emotions and sensations while also keeping the reader wondering about what is being hinted at. For example, when George Orwell uses the phrase "unbearable beauty" to describe Lady Sybil Thorndike, he is implying that her beauty was so stunning that it made him feel sick.
The use of similes can really help writers create a vivid picture in their readers' minds. It is important for writers to understand how similes work because they need to be used properly if they want to achieve the desired effect. For example, if you want to tell your reader that you are feeling angry then you should not use a simile such as "Tom felt like punching someone." Instead, you should write "Tom felt like throwing a punch at anyone who looked at him cross-eyed." Using this method, the reader will know that you are feeling angry without having to actually read the words "fist into".
Similes are often confused with metaphors, but they are actually different animals. Metaphors are phrases or words that have been altered to show how two things are related. For example, we could say that Tom is his own worst enemy by saying that he makes himself feel worse by thinking badly of himself.
Why should I be interested in similes? Similes create very effective written descriptions (even really great descriptions). Similes assist the writer in describing things in a really unique and imaginative way. Similes, for the reader, generate a powerful visual image in our brains as we read. The brain is a visual processing organ and creating images helps us understand concepts that might not be readily apparent from just reading the text alone.
Using comparisons and similes effectively can make your writing more interesting to read and allow you to make your points more clearly. For example, if you were trying to explain something like this: "His answer was like thunder on deaf ears." The comparison with lightning and the image of hearing nothing would help clarify his attitude quickly without being wordy. Or, if you wanted to describe someone who was stubborn like a rock: "He was as obstinate as a rock." The use of similes here creates an image in the reader's mind of someone rigid and unyielding when they probably thought of someone like this being soft and yielding.
There are several types of similes including literal, metaphorical, and emotional. Literal similes include like-as-or-equal-to and like-as-or-less-than-to. Like-as-or-equal-to similes show a direct relationship between two things. They usually involve objects that are identical or similar in some way.