Using metaphors in writing: How to find fresh, unconventional metaphors

Metaphors are powerful tools to use in writing. They add depth, richness, and meaning to a story or character. Metaphors make the reader see the world in a new and vivid way. As the author of an erotic novel, you can use metaphors to spark your reader’s imagination and create a memorable experience. But how do you find fresh, unconventional metaphors that will make your work stand out? Follow these tips and learn how to find new metaphors that will take your writing to the next level.

Think Associatively

Try to connect different concepts, ideas, or objects that are not normally connected. Think about their properties, functions, or meanings and look for interesting connections or comparisons.

Here are some examples of metaphors created through associative thinking:

  • “His laughter was like a summer thunderstorm.” (connection between the sound of laughter and the unexpected and refreshing nature of a summer thunderstorm).
  • “She is a shining star in the dark night of life.” (connection between the shine of a star and the hope a person brings in difficult times)
  • “His mind is a river of endless ideas.” (Connection between the continuous flow of a river and a person’s inexhaustible creativity)
  • “Love is a tender seed that grows in our hearts.” (Connection between the development and growth of a seed and the emergence and deepening of love)
  • “His words are like arrows that go straight to the heart.” (connection between the penetrating power of arrows and the emotional impact of strong words)
  • “The city pulsates like a living heart.” (connection between the rhythm of urban life and the pulsing and beating of a heart).
  • “Your voice is like a gentle breeze that makes the leaves whisper.” (connection between the softness and tenderness of a voice and the gentle breeze that makes leaves move)

These examples should give you an idea of how associative thinking can create new and original metaphors by relating different concepts or images.


Take an existing metaphor and turn it around or change its meaning. Think about what happens when you reverse the metaphorical comparison or reverse the roles of the elements involved.

Here are some examples of metaphors formed by reversal:

  • “Instead of having a butterfly in his stomach, he had a colony of ants in his stomach.” (Inversion of the familiar metaphor of the butterfly in the stomach to express negative feelings or nervousness.)
  • “Instead of looking for a needle in a haystack, he looked for a haystack in a needle.” (Inverting the metaphor of looking for something rare or difficult to express the idea that something tiny is surrounded by something big)
  • “Instead of looking at life through a rose, he looked at a rose through life.” (Reversing the metaphor of life as a rose to illustrate that life is the lens through which we perceive the beauty and meaning of things)
  • “Instead of seeing the wolf in sheep’s clothing, she saw the sheep in wolf’s clothing.” (Inverting the metaphor of a hidden threat to express the idea that a perceived enemy is actually harmless)
  • “Instead of swimming like a fish in water, he swam like water in a fish.” (Reversing the metaphor of fitting in or feeling embedded to express the idea that someone is completely merging with their environment)
  • “Instead of dancing in the wind, she danced like the wind.” (Inverting the metaphor of dancing and moving freely to express the idea that someone embodies the qualities of the wind – invisible, free, and uncontrollable)

These examples are meant to illustrate how new perspectives and meanings can emerge by inverting existing metaphors. By inverting expected comparisons, one generates surprising and creative expressions.

Word games

Play with words, sounds, and meanings. Experiment with homonyms, homophones, or word combinations to discover new metaphorical connections.

Here are some examples of metaphors created by playing games with words, sounds, and meanings or experimenting with homonyms, homophones, or word combinations:

  • “She was a radiant source of inspiration, she made my ideas gush forth like an overflowing cistern.”
  • “His smile was like sunshine, filling the room with warm light and cheerfulness.”
  • “The words slipped from her tongue like silk threads, elegant and captivating at the same time.”
  • “His ideas were like firecrackers exploding in my mind, igniting a dazzling spectacle of thought.”
  • “Silence spread like an invisible fog that enveloped the room and smothered every sound utterance.”
  • “His mind was a kaleidoscope of creativity, an ever-changing pattern of ideas and ideas.”
  • “The words flowed out of it like a wild river overflowing its banks, sweeping the listeners along with it.”

These examples are meant to illustrate how games with words, sounds, and meanings can help create new and unexpected metaphors. Skillful use of wordplay and creative connections can create lively and original expressions.

Nature-based metaphors

Use the natural world as a source of inspiration. Look at animals, plants, landscapes, or natural phenomena and look for parallels to your topic. Think about what characteristics or behaviors from nature could be applied to your topic.

  • “His temper was like a seething volcano that could erupt at any moment.”
  • “Their love blossomed like a delicate flower in spring, growing with each embrace and smile.”
  • “The explorer’s courage knew no bounds, he was a daring mountaineer who faced the highest peaks.”
  • “His eyes shone like stars in the dark night sky, they were full of mystery and infinite vastness.”
  • “Their laughter was like the sound of a babbling brook, refreshing and alive.”
  • “The poet’s words were like gentle breezes that brushed through the treetops and touched the soul.”
  • “Time passed like the course of a river, unstoppable and inevitable.”

Connect different areas

Combine different subject areas or domains to make new metaphorical connections. Think about the similarities and differences between them and look for ways to transfer concepts or ideas from one domain to another.

Here are some examples of metaphors created by linking different topics or domains:

  • “His mind was an orchestra of ideas that chimed together harmoniously and amazed the audience.”
  • “Her words were like brushstrokes on a canvas, painting pictures with language that brought emotions to life.”
  • “His thinking was a computer program that analyzed complex problems and generated elegant solutions.”
  • “Her leadership skills were like the choreography of a dance, coordinating every move and leading her team to success.”
  • “His voice was like a masterpiece of architecture, building a soundscape that conquered the senses.”
  • “His knowledge was like a kaleidoscope of different disciplines, looking at the world from different angles and seeing hidden connections.”
  • “Its analytical skills were like a detective on the trail, gathering clues, connecting them, and revealing the truth.”

These examples show how connecting different domains or topics can create new and interesting metaphors. By linking concepts or properties from different domains, original and vivid expressions emerge.

Abstract metaphors

Think about abstract concepts or feelings and try to connect them to concrete images or situations. Think about what physical or sensory experiences can be connected to these abstract concepts.

Here are some examples of metaphors that connect abstract concepts or feelings to concrete images or situations:

  • “Loneliness enveloped her like an impenetrable fog that cut her off from the outside world.”
  • “Fear gnawed at her like a hungry predator that threatened her inner peace.”
  • “Time passed like an unstoppable river that carried everything away.”
  • “His confidence was like a strong tree, deeply rooted and withstanding adversity.”
  • “Hope was like a bright spotlight in the darkness, illuminating the path to success.”
  • “His words were like a balm for the soul, healing the wounds and giving comfort.”
  • “Love was like a delicate butterfly landing on the palm of the hand and making the heart flutter.”

These examples illustrate how abstract concepts or feelings can be related to concrete images or situations. Using sensory experiences and pictorial descriptions creates a vivid and immersive effect that allows the reader or listener to better grasp and understand the abstract.

Be bold and experiment with different linguistic expressions. Play with metaphors, analogies, symbols, and figurative language to make new connections. Try unusual or surprising comparisons to gain new perspectives.
Finding new and unconventional metaphors is an art that requires patience and creativity. By observing the world around you, drawing inspiration from nature, experimenting with different emotions, and twisting common metaphors, you can create memorable experiences for your readers as a fiction writer. By following these tips, you’ll stand out from the crowd and capture your readers’ imagination with the power of metaphors.

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