How to Write Using an Extended Metaphor


Today is a good day for a writing exercise.  This one is tough, and will really work your mental muscle, so sit down, hold on and get ready to write like you may never have written before.  This will work best if you can share ideas with a partner, so find someone to do this with you.  However, if you do not, then this can be done alone.

We will try three subjects first:

  • Religion
  • Factory
  • Education

For each subject, create a thought web like the one below, listing as many descriptive words you can that have to do with that subject.

Next, do a word web for the other two subjects and then compare notes with your partner, adding the words that your partner wrote that you did not think about when you did your own thought web.

When you finish, write about the one subject you are most passionate about using the terminology of the words from one of the other topics.  For example, use factory terminology to write about education or education terminology to write about religion.

Here is an example sentence:

The assembly line of students sit quietly as the foreman walks the factory floor, every worker waiting eagerly for the work whistle to blow.

Write a paragraph using this method and you will be on your way to describing a subject by way of using an extended metaphor.  It makes for some very powerful writing and will give an otherwise boring scene some fantastic life.


Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

7 thoughts on “How to Write Using an Extended Metaphor

  1. Roger, this is an excellent suggestion on how to “arrive” at thinking in metaphor; and one that I have not tried before. I don’t have time to try it right now, but am keeping this post in my writing files so that I can refer to it. Thank you so much for sharing valuable writing information with us! ~ Julie

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