Like-for-Like

“The cannonball scythed through the battalion like a machete through hapless brush.” “Waking up, I felt like I’d crawled from warm sands to an icy tide.” “He smelled like month-old cheese served on a day-old sock.”

Figures of speech. The simile. Describing everything as if it were everything else. The masters produce the right image, the right feeling, the exact thing they want you to experience. The failures fail, failing like a failure at life who failed failing.

That’s why we’re Writing All Wrong.

What is the key to using a good simile (like “life is like a box of chocolates”)? 

—Gerald Siegel, Hamilton, Ont.

(Note: a simile is a figure of speech comparing two different things, usually using “like,” “as,” or “kinda like, y’know, like.” If you didn’t know that by now, then I don’t know what to tell you or your excuse for an English teacher.)

A good simile is like a candle that burns forever, even burning your house down when you don’t want it anymore.

A bad simile is like a flashlight that helps you see in the dark.

A good simile is like a fireproof raincoat, keeping you alive when it’s raining cats, dogs, and fireballs.

A bad simile is like an umbrella that doesn’t let rain hit you.

A good simile is like making out with a sandbox.

A bad simile is like an awkward lover.

A good simile is like tasting a hint of honey when you lick an envelope seal.

A bad simile is like a pleasant surprise when you least expect it.

A good simile is like a tiramisu that puts you over the blood alcohol limit.

A bad simile is like a better dessert after a good meal.

A good simile is like breaking your enemy’s legs, then breaking his wheelchair later on.

A bad simile is like getting sweet revenge.

A good simile is like eating the ants at your picnic.

A bad simile is like taking lemons and making lemonade.

A good simile is like your toast landing butter side up.

A bad simile is like the sun breaking through on a cloudy day.

A good simile is like a frozen rose.

A bad simile is like a classic case of unrequited love.

A good simile is like being struck by lightning while winning the lottery.

A bad simile is like a double rainbow all the way across the sky.

A good simile is like a fat boy furiously digging Earth’s last corn dog out from under the car seat.

A bad simile is like being so hungry you could eat an elephant.

A good simile is like eating an apple pie wrapped in an American flag on the 4th of July.

A bad simile is like showering in crisp lemonade while caressing the bosom of a one-eyed snowman.

A good simile is like a hayride in a bouncy castle with the microwave on medium-rare.

A bad simile is like a cage match between a mechanical platypus and I don’t want to visit the dentist anymore.

A good simile is like a Canadian petrol boy shock-inhaling the leafy green to get the motor kicked up and guzzling that Molson can.

A bad simile is like riding a gumball machine on a one-legged icicle and filling a Toyota’s airsick bag with purple-fun cotton candy while taking it to a tornado party of vanilla bacon and hippopotamus puppeteering.

Crap, I think this thing broke again.

Writing All Wrong can be reached via email (WritingAllWrong@me.com), followed on Twitter (@WritingAllWrong), and directly compared to a herd of coati mundi trampling the foetid excesses of poor writesmanship. 

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