Writing Forums

Writing Forums is a privately-owned, community managed writing environment. We provide an unlimited opportunity for writers and poets of all abilities, to share their work and communicate with other writers and creative artists. We offer an experience that is safe, welcoming and friendly, regardless of your level of participation, knowledge or skill. There are several opportunities for writers to exchange tips, engage in discussions about techniques, and grow in your craft. You can also participate in forum competitions that are exciting and helpful in building your skill level. There's so much more for you to explore!

How many "as if" statements? (1 Viewer)

Status
Not open for further replies.

EternalGreen

Senior Member
While pouring over my WiP, it occurred to me that I used roughly one poetic as if per 1,000 words. This is probably too much.

I would like to start a conversation on the poetic as if; namely, how much is too much?
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
While pouring over my WiP, it occurred to me that I used roughly one poetic as if per 1,000 words. This is probably too much.

I would like to start a conversation on the poetic as if; namely, how much is too much?

It's a question without a meaningful answer. I use them when they come to mind. They may come to mind for you more often than for me, meaning you write more similes than I do ... or I use "like" more often than "as". LOL I just counted eleven "as if" in my just completed, and at least half of those weren't similes ("as if I care", for example). And yes, after a quick scan of that file, I do have a few similes in each chapter, only using "like" instead of "as" ... probably not quite as many as you're counting, though.

I doubt you can have too many unless you're forcing them. I've seen writers force similes that didn't click, "as if" the writer REALLY wanted one there but couldn't come up with anything clever, so they left something awkward just to write one. If they sound natural and clever, the more the merrier. You'll just amuse your readers more often.
 
Last edited:

TheMightyAz

Mentor
I like similes but try to avoid using 'as if' or 'like'. I guess that makes them more metaphor than simile? I dread to think how many I use though ... but now I'm sure to notice them :(

Just checked: 4 in 2,800 words.
 
Last edited:

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I like similes but try to avoid using 'as if' or 'like'. I guess that makes them more metaphor than simile? I dread to think how many I use though ... but now I'm sure to notice them :(

Just checked: 3 in 2,800 words.

You're right. By definition a simile compares with "like" or "as". While it's possible to write a simile-like phrase without one of the two, it generally involves a wordy construction that should never be written in the first place. But there is also a basic difference. A simile compares two unlike things, and a metaphor more directly calls one thing another thing. A simile is, however, a subset of metaphor.

Simile: His eyes shone like a predator's reflecting the campfire.
Metaphor: His eyes were two deep blue marbles aglow with an inner fire.
 

Taylor

Staff member
Global Moderator
I enjoy the "as ifs" when I'm reading, and they can be very pleasurable to write. But one thing to bear in mind is that they take longer to read. The mind has to work a little harder when it can't take things at face value.
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
While pouring over my WiP, it occurred to me that I used roughly one poetic as if per 1,000 words. This is probably too much.

I would like to start a conversation on the poetic as if; namely, how much is too much?

It's a well-worn go-to phrase that I definitely see a lot. I think the key is to rephrase the simile. There's "as though" but that's not much better. "Like" - again, same issue. Let's take a cheesy simile as an example:

He ran as if his feet were on fire.
He ran like his feet were on fire.
He ran the way a man might if his feet were on fire
He ran in the panicked manner of someone whose feet were on fire

IMO there's always scope to expand one's palette of comparisons.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
...yes...I’d be keen to eliminate most examples of ‘as if’, and also I would want to murder every solitary ‘as’ - if at all possible while in the village. ‘As’ is the glowing hooter of draft 1 link/not so great writing, almost a bomb run of hads is preferable.

Simile can often disappear. Try the sentence or clause as, sorry, as, apols, as, fff, direct allusion/metaphor. Sometimes is really good.
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
It's a well-worn go-to phrase that I definitely see a lot. I think the key is to rephrase the simile. There's "as though" but that's not much better. "Like" - again, same issue. Let's take a cheesy simile as an example:

He ran as if his feet were on fire.
He ran like his feet were on fire.
He ran the way a man might if his feet were on fire
He ran in the panicked manner of someone whose feet were on fire

IMO there's always scope to expand one's palette of comparisons.

Yes, but your last two examples are the wordy ones I mentioned with the opinion they should never be written. Replacing one word with six just to spite the one isn't a good idea. I wouldn't call "like" and "as" well worn. They're the two words in the language with the meaning that links the two sides of the simile. I actually researched just this before I wrote my first response above, and in blogs and message boards, no one was coming up with alternatives which weren't wordy, and the disadvantage of the wordiness was discussed. As writers, we can be a bit tougher on something like this than a reader is. A reader isn't sitting there counting our similes and thinking, "Gee, I wish there were something other than "like" or "as". They're just reading.

Of course, you could pack too many into a short space, but even then the reader isn't going to be rolling their eyes at "like" or "as", rather the overuse of similes as a whole ... and, sadly, I HAVE seen that done. LOL
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
Yes, but your last two examples are the wordy ones I mentioned with the opinion they should never be written. Replacing one word with six just to spite the one isn't a good idea. I wouldn't call "like" and "as" well worn. They're the two words in the language with the meaning that links the two sides of the simile. I actually researched just this before I wrote my first response above, and in blogs and message boards, no one was coming up with alternatives which weren't wordy, and the disadvantage of the wordiness was discussed. As writers, we can be a bit tougher on something like this than a reader is. A reader isn't sitting there counting our similes and thinking, "Gee, I wish there were something other than "like" or "as". They're just reading.

Of course, you could pack too many into a short space, but even then the reader isn't going to be rolling their eyes at "like" or "as", rather the overuse of similes as a whole ... and, sadly, I HAVE seen that done. LOL

For me, middle ground is best. Things like "like" and "as though" do start to set up an unwanted knocking noise for me if overused, even when I'm just reading. It scams amateurishly, especially if the surrounding text isn't sufficiently robust for them to hide in. Equally, I notice it when a writer finds some other way to construct a simile. I notice it positively. It actually elevates a book from "OK" status to "pretty good", to know they've actually considered that amount of detail. Sure, it might be wordy, but that doesn't always mean worse. But you are right in that it could easily get purple. It's just about finding a balance, and understanding that there's more to similes than as and like.
 

EternalGreen

Senior Member
Or ... they're like any of these. ;-)

“She had a deep, throaty, genuine laugh, like that sound a dog makes just before it throws up.”

^That is NOT bad at all.

For me, middle ground is best. Things like "like" and "as though" do start to set up an unwanted knocking noise for me if overused, even when I'm just reading. It scams amateurishly, especially if the surrounding text isn't sufficiently robust for them to hide in. Equally, I notice it when a writer finds some other way to construct a simile. I notice it positively. It actually elevates a book from "OK" status to "pretty good", to know they've actually considered that amount of detail. Sure, it might be wordy, but that doesn't always mean worse. But you are right in that it could easily get purple. It's just about finding a balance, and understanding that there's more to similes than as and like.

What an excellent reply. Thank you.
 

TheMightyAz

Mentor
For me, middle ground is best. Things like "like" and "as though" do start to set up an unwanted knocking noise for me if overused, even when I'm just reading. It scams amateurishly, especially if the surrounding text isn't sufficiently robust for them to hide in. Equally, I notice it when a writer finds some other way to construct a simile. I notice it positively. It actually elevates a book from "OK" status to "pretty good", to know they've actually considered that amount of detail. Sure, it might be wordy, but that doesn't always mean worse. But you are right in that it could easily get purple. It's just about finding a balance, and understanding that there's more to similes than as and like.

Surely though, finding another way of expressing a simile turns it into a metaphor or even personification? I don't think it really matters on the face of things but I find it an interesting point. For instance, I originally had this description with an 'as if' but changed it. Protag mending a fence:

Beyond, grassland rose slowly and then steeply to meet the grey and white foot of the mountain. Only one of five giants, it grew beyond scale, its head in the clouds, bearing down on this tiny individual tapping at its world.

Which turned it into 'personification'. At least that's how I see it.
 

Matchu

Senior Member
Harsh:). But for my taste/tea - too much wordiage in that paragraph. When you might take me on such an armchair ride imagining mountains, so close.

Instead you hurl in beyond, chop a slowly, toss extra white & grey, and the only. Now exhausted I don’t want to eat that stew any longer. Too late. (My actress voice)
 

Matchu

Senior Member
I did. I had very interesting opinions about ‘as if’ but not widely shared by the looks of things.

l’ve also got the pal, not any longer, who used to put a simile at the end of every sentence [almost every]. I told him don’t put a simile at the end of every sentence it’s like ski-jumping highlights but he insisted. Probably a great & published figure these days.
 
Last edited:

EternalGreen

Senior Member
I wrote cringe the other day:

"She was unwilling to divulge information as if it were a source of power."

This made Foucault roll in his grave.

As fucking if knowledge were power, lmao.

I see stuff like: "He hugged me as if being friendly," all the time.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top