Real-life Non-fiction Metaphors

Kinky Boots
Cyndi Lauper’s Kinky Boots wins 2013 Best Musical Tony award

In my last post, I encouraged you to incorporate metaphor into your writing. In case you’re still not convinced how it will work in non-fiction writing, here are some examples. Note in each case how the metaphor immediately created a visual image for the reader, bringing the concept into focus and making further explanation unnecessary. You may recognize a couple of the metaphors as similes, a specific type of metaphor that compares two items using “like” or “as.” 

“Cindi Lauper knows how to work a crowd. Making her Broadway debut as a composer with Kinky Boots the new musical (2013 Tony Winner) that opened on Thursday night at the Al Hirschfeld Theater, this storied singer has created a love-and heat-seeking score that performs like a pop star on Ecstasy.” Ben Brantley, New York Times, 4/13/13

“It might seem like a matter of time before the NFL and London stop flirting and start going steady.” Nate Silver, “The NFL Should Expand to London. But First: Canada, Mexico and LA,” ESPN, Football, 11/11/14.

“Unlike some of his predecessors, McConnell isn’t pretending to be a great campaigner or even a very good one. Instead, he is doubling down on the I’m-the-devil-you-know argument and betting it will work fine…Kentucky is marbled with reminders of McConnell’s ability to bring home the bacon.” Jay Newton-Small, “The Humbling of the Senate’s Master,” Time, April 21, 2014, p. 34.

“ObamaCare is Taking on Water: It’s not just a buggy website, it’s a disaster of Titanic proportions.” Peggy Noonan, The Wall Street Journal, 10/25/13

“On Tuesday evening, President Xi Jinping of China invited President Obama to dinner at his official residence, telling his guest that he hoped that they had laid the foundation for a collaborative relationship — or, as he more metaphorically put it, ‘A pool begins with many drops of water.’” Mark Landler, “U.S. and China Agree to Cut Tariffs, but Vie for Trade Blocs,” New York Times, 11/11/14.

“States Brace for Obamacare Gutting.” Headline, HuffPost, 11/11/14.

“Obamacare is starting to resemble a patient bleeding from self-inflicted wounds.” The Editorial Board, USA Today, 11/4/13.

“This once heavenly match may turn out to be the marriage from hell.” Business Week, 11/3/96, p. 19

Speaking at Arlington national cemetery, Joe Biden said military veterans are not only the heart and soul, but the “spine of the nation.”

“Can the tobacco industry now afford to breathe freely once again, unlike its customers?” The Economist, 1/6/96, p. 70.

“Yet no mix of these policies is likely to end the great wage slowdown anytime soon. ‘This is not a silver-bullet issue,’ says Gene Sperling, a longtime adviser to Bill and Hillary Clinton and Mr. Obama, ‘and that’s part of what’s frustrating to people.’” David Leonhardt, “The Great Wage Slowdown, Looming Over Politics,” New York Times, 11/11/14.

In comments, below, add your own examples of good non-fiction metaphors.