The simile and metaphor examples in this article take the form of four "rules" you should apply whenever you add similes and metaphors to your novel.
These two figures of speech are an important part of your writer's toolkit, but you should always beware of using them badly or too much.
Most of the examples of metaphors and similes given below are bad examples. If you want your novel to rise above the ordinary, avoid this kind of writing at all costs.
Similes and metaphors are like the finishes touches in a room - a cranberry scatter cushion here, a Ming vase there, two Georgian candlesticks on the mantelpiece.
Used well, they beautify a passage of prose in a novel. Used too often, they make it look gaudy.
Solution? If in doubt, strike them out.
Take a look at these simile and metaphor examples...
What's wrong with them? Well, the first time these figures of speech were ever used, way back when, they would have been fresh and clever. Now they are not.
Find original and interesting figures of speech and publishers will sit up and take notice. Resort to similes and metaphors that come easily to mind and publishers, dare I say it, will avoid you like the plague.
(Yes, that final simile is definitely overused and one to avoid in your own writing.)
Using too many similes in general is not to be recommended, but using one right after the other is a definite no-no. It never looks right, as these simile examples show...
This is virtually the same point as the previous one, although the problem is a subtler one. Take a look at these two examples of metaphors...
Norman's mind was a machine. He could waltz through cryptic crosswords in mere minutes.
The trouble here is that the message is confused. First, Norman's intelligence is compared to a clever and efficient machine. Next, his speed at crosswords is compared to the speed and grace of a dance.
If you don't want the reader to say "Huh?" you must always follow metaphors through once you have introduced them. Like this...
Norman's mind was a machine. He could process cryptic crosswords in mere minutes.
Mixed metaphors are easy to miss when revising a novel. But if you don't spot them, you can be sure other people will.
Similes and metaphors, of course, are only two figures of speech available to you, and if you want to learn how to write prose like a poet you need to familiarize yourself with them all.
I talk about them in more detail in Using Other Figures of Speech...