M – Metaphor

My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…



Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.

There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.

Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.


That night Hawk slept on the beach, near the water, both to be closer to his new mermaid friend and to watch out for the creepy old woman. He was like an ancient Roman centurion, ever on guard. Next to him lay a shotgun, three knives, a sword, a pistol, a mace, and six throwing stars, a true arsenal of the gods. No witches, demons, monsters, or tax collectors would pass by him that night.

Dropsy slept in the water, floating on her back like a ship passing in the night, one with huge breasts like great succulent watermelons bobbing across the surface. Her hair spread around her in the water like creepy seaweed.

Hawk kept one eye open, literally, as he had learned how to sleep like that when his family visited his ancestral Highland home as a child–a place where brigands and thieves stole about like hungry jackals in the night. He would be ready for anything that crept up on them, like a well-trained dog on the hunt.

He was half lost in dreams about riding Dropsy through the waves like a dolphin, when his senses were tickled, as if with a feather, by the sound of soft footsteps approaching on the sand.


Metaphor is a literary device in which something is likened to something else, usually something universally recognized and understood, to give it impact. Unfortunately, ill-used metaphor has the opposite effect: instead of making a strong, distinctive comparison, it comes across as cheesy and trite. There are much better ways to convey the gravity of a situation without using metaphor. Sometimes, stating things outright is much more powerful in its simplicity. Showing how an action, words, or a character affects people and things around them is direct and has better results. Metaphors have their place, but they shouldn’t be used as a crutch.

Also, if you have a good editor, they’re probably going to pluck metaphors out of your writing and tell you to do better. We don’t always need to be reminded of a comparison to understand how a concept, person, or event takes shape—if it’s written well enough, the reader will unconsciously make those comparisons on their own. That makes for more powerful writing than what you get when you lean on metaphor and cliché.

Author: Megan Morgan

Paranormal and contemporary romance author.

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