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Too many Likes (1 Viewer)

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Senior Member
I like allegories but I ended up with an excessive use (or abuse) of the word "like".

This is like that.
That is like this.

This guy bounces like a basketball.
The conveyor looks like an arm.
She climbs like a spider.
He feels like something something.

Added to the other use of "like"...
She likes ice-cream.

... it becomes a bugging word that pops out everywhere.

My pages are infested with 'likes' like a dog with fleas.
Not even my posts on social media get that many likes :sneakiness:

Now, in my second draft, I need to do something about it.

What can I do?

(Thank you!)


Staff member
For the verb form, you can try out other verbs: She enjoys ice-cream, She prefers ice-cream, She can't get enough ice-cream.

For the similes, live with like or get wordy: The way he bounced reminded me of a basketball. She climbs with a spider's style.


Senior Member
"His hand is like a vice."
"His hand is as strong as a vice."
"A vice could not be stronger than his hand."
"His hand gripped me as if a vice."
"His grip is a vice."
"He gripped me, his hand a vice."

"Likes" as comparisons/symbolism are similes. Example: "And the moon is a sliver of silver / Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop."

Metaphor is often described as a comparison that does not use "like" or "as." Example: "The windows are mornings and evenings."

However, I see metaphor as being more of a larger category which contains similes, metaphors, extended metaphors, symbolism, etc. I see metaphor as more than a technique to describe reality, but another way of talking about truth. In fact I often find it hard to distinguish between when I'm being metaphorical or literal.

So practically, I would say expand into using metaphor in a general sense instead of always resorting to simile. The song I was pulling my examples from is a good example; it starts with a simile, but the simile becomes a larger extended metaphor, so the writer ends up using "like" only once:

And the moon is a sliver of silver
Like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenter's shop
And every house must have its builder
And I awoke in the house of God
Where the windows are mornings and evenings
Stretched from the sun
Across the sky north to south
And on my way to early meeting
I heard the rocks crying out
("The Color Green" - Rich Mullins)

Of course, he could have written "the world is like the house of God," "the windows are like mornings," and "the rocks seem like they have voices." But instead, he employs the symbol of the world as a house throughout the stanza, which both results in better diction (not so many "likes") and a better inter-connectedness of imagery. Also note the different metaphorical techniques: simile, metaphor, and personification (stones crying out).

Then there's the type of metaphor where it's not clear what technique is being used (or perhaps I'm just poetically illiterate), but there's definitely an engagement with symbolism. Metaphor that blurs the lines between the literal and the metaphorical. Example: "And the wrens have returned and they're nesting / In the hollow of that oak where his heart once had been." These lines begin with a literal statement, about wrens nesting in an oak, but then-- "where his heart once had been." Was his heart literally there, and on that precise oak? Maybe. Maybe not. I'm still figuring out what I think about this whole metaphor thing. Either way, there's metaphor within that line. It just slides in seamlessly.

One technique I often use for putting subtle metaphor in is selecting my descriptive words carefully to generate certain associations in reader's minds. i. e., "Blood-red" vs. "Christmas-red" vs. "Poisoned-apple-red."

Specific ideas for using metaphor in different ways, starting from your similes:

This guy's a basketball, bouncing all over the room. ​ (direct metaphor)
This guy bounces, basketball-crazy.
(turned simile into an adjective)
Me and Lucy try to juggle this guy, but he's bouncing here, there, everywhere.
(subtle extended metaphor)
This guy bounces wildly from topic to topic; I try to dribble him back to what we were talking about, but he escapes me.
(extended metaphor with more obvious basketball reference)
The conveyor reaches for the donuts. (subtle personification)
The conveyor stretches--a black, perpetually-spreading arm. (direct metaphor)
The conveyor's metal bones clink along, rubber-flesh stretching, plastic-skin shining, spreading towards the other end of the factory.
(extended metaphor, not directly stated)
She climbs as swift as a spider. (simile that uses "as")
Her spidery legs sprawl out as she climbs, bug-eyed, hair gleaming black. (turned simile into adjective and used in an indirect extended metaphor)

Phil Istine

WF Veterans
Reducing the number of similes - like an editor might do - could be a help, like someone throwing a rubber ring into a pool.

This guy bounces like a basketball.
I'm not so sure of the image I might get from this as people tend to not be too bouncy unless on a trampoline. Using a verb other than bounced might help but it's difficult to suggest one without more context.

She climbs like a spider.
Her spindly limbs show arachnoid precision as she climbs higher and higher, stopping here and there as if to (get her bearings/milk the applause).

I'm not so sure about the conveyor one.

K.S. Crooks

Senior Member
Reduce the comparisons, especially if the reader may not know what you're referring to. Instead of saying a drink looks like milk, state that the drink is cold and solid white. This also reduce the chance of making the mistake of telling people what something Is Not, instead of telling the reader what something Is.


Staff member
Global Moderator
My characters tend to be introspective, and so the word 'would' sometimes infests my writing and is whittled down during edits.

What would happen if...

Would she do this?


Senior Member
When I find myself writing too many adverbs, similes, prepositional phrases, etc., I try this exercise:


Can you express an idea using a subject, a verb, and an object, in a single clause with no conjunctions or prepositions? If you cannot, you are wrong because the answer is always yes, especially if you are willing to use multiple sentences. This method can then be walked back by adding conjunctions and prepositions later, but by then you've figured out how to pack as much rhetorical punch as possible into the basic parts of each sentence.

The real secret weapon is verbs. Don't use poetic verb choice for no reason, but chances are there is a verb that conveys exactly what you are trying to say with ten words. English's hidden supply of wonderful verbs is a marvel, and you can even make your own: as Bill Watterson said, "verbing weirds language."

Olly Buckle

Like Arrow in the bow starts by saying, a simile uses 'as' or 'like', a metaphor does not, so switch from simile to metaphor.

This guy bounces, he's a basketball, there is no stopping him.
An arm, the conveyor carries stuff off.

And then when you do use it put it the other way around sometimes.
She climbs, spider like, on the bare cliff.

Use 'as', the other simile word, sometimes
This guy is as bouncy as a basketball

Avoid the comparative route, go for the superlative.
This guy bounces, he pings all over the place non stop

Make a negative comparison.
This guy bounces, he makes a basketball look lethargic.

I reckon if you use suggestions from each post and mix them a bit it will start looking pretty varied :) Good luck.
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