How to Add Spice to Your Content

How to Add Spice to Your Content

Finding ways to help your readers understand your ideas and concepts isn’t always easy – but there are two writer tricks that you can use to get that “a-ha!” from your crowd: analogies and metaphors.

Now, we’ve covered analogies before. You can read about them right here. The short version is that analogies compare something unfamiliar to something familiar. Readers thus grasp what you want to teach quickly and with greater understanding.

For example, the medical explanation of how microorganisms affect our health can be complex and involve plenty of jargon that people might not understand. Viral invasions, comparing red blood cell counts to white blood cells counts…

No. A doctor trying to calm a worried mother in the emergency room at 3am while her child is burning with fever needs a fast way to get the mom to realize it’s going to be okay.

So he says, “Germs are like tiny little soldiers attacking your body. Your child’s body tries to fight them off by burning them up with fever. Fighting is hard, though, and germs are strong, so your child’s body gets tired and needs lots of rest. Once the fight is over and your child has rested up to recover from the battle, she’ll feel just fine.

That’s an analogy. The mom gets that explanation and nods. She understands.

Analogies are fun, and they’re simple to use. A tangelo is like an orange. A heart is like a pump. A vein of blood is like a river. Taylor is like a whip-wielding taskmaster dressed in a corset.

You get the picture. (No, not that picture. I mean about the analogies. Sheesh.)

Metaphors are just as easy to use, and they can be twice as fun to work with. Metaphors and analogies are unfortunately often confused, though, because they resemble each other – but they do have a distinct difference.

Let’s clear that up, shall we?

A metaphor is when you use one object or concept to mean or represent another. A television is a mind-sucking box. An ice skate is the key to speed. Poets love metaphors: “My love is a flower that needs care and attention…”

Yes, well.

In 30 Sous Zero (sorry, no link to listen), French folk-rock songwriter-singer Kevin Parent used a great metaphor.

He didn’t know how to tell his girlfriend about his mistress, who had a pretty little head and a big, beautiful rump. Ah, but fate smiled his way. The girlfriend got snappy one day and told him he could leave anytime, that she wouldn’t care.

So he did.

He went and fetched his mistress and brought her to a hotel. There was love in the air, and he unfastened her hair. He proceeded to unpin his mistress, did her frontways and backways and satisfied her as best he could.

(Yes, the live recording of the song includes many a hoot and cat-call in the background.)

At the end of the song, Kevin reveals the metaphor: His mistress is his guitar, and he was changing her strings.

The use of the metaphor was brilliant. It was engaging, sucking the audience right into the story. It conveyed exactly how much Kevin loved his guitar and added a flavor of fun when the simplicity of the metaphor came to light. Everyone laughed.

Imagine you doing that with your content. Drawing people right into the metaphor and creating impact when you reveal the ending. That’s a great way to make sure people remember what you wrote.

And, a good metaphor isn’t just fun, but it can be educational, too. For example, the audience learned about guitars thanks to the well-chosen lyrics – that you change guitar strings by twisting the pegs frontways and backways to loosen or tighten them, and that if you’ve done a good job, the guitar sings sweetly for you.

Kevin could have used an analogy to express that a guitar is like a mistress. Would it have been as effective to convey his message? No. He did use one analogy in the song, that of some people thinking a guitar is like a plank of wood. But the mention was brief, in passing and just seasoning for the main dish.

(See what I did there?)

Your turn: Pick a passion of yours. Think of an analogy for it and drop it in the comment section. Or, go for the challenge of writing a metaphor. Let’s see how creative you can be!

Post by James Chartrand

James Chartrand is an expert copywriter and the owner of Men with Pens and Damn Fine Words, the game-changing writing course for business owners. She loves the color blue, her kids, Nike sneakers and ice skating.

Join the Discussion. Click Here to Leave a Comment.

  1. “Taylor is like a whip-wielding taskmaster dressed in a corset.”

    Being the real thing is far more fun! 🙂

    And for the metaphor….

    “My coffee is like that fiercely secluded river of inspiration that brilliantly flashes in the hidden sunlight even during the most torrential downpour of teenaged angst that currently floods my household at the most inopportune times.”

    I think I’ll stick to humor. 🙂
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..Today’s Humor – True Love….There She Is! Part 1 =-.

  2. Wow, Barbara… Where’d you get that stuff?

    *looks inside his coffee cup*

    Mine is mud.

  3. How about this. “My desk looks like the aftermath of a paper explosion, but I know where everything is. ”

    Loved this post btw.
    .-= Chris Anderson´s last blog ..OMV Update Sept. 13th =-.

  4. @ Chris – Sounds like my desk. BUT! to be an analogy, you’d have to revamp that just a touch:

    “My desk is like the aftermath of a paper explosion.”

    Removing the work “looks” turns it from a description into a true analogy.

    And the metaphor?

    “My desk is the aftermath of a paper explosion. And I am the skilled secret agent who knows where all the secrets of truth within are hidden.”

    Mmm… maybe that’s just wishful thinking on my part concerning my own desk!

  5. @James “Where’d you get that stuff?”

    You try raising 12 Twitter Budgies, 2 mooses, one husband and a passel of kids; it’s a psychedelic adventure like nothing else. 🙂
    .-= Barbara Ling, Virtual Coach´s last blog ..Today’s Humor – True Love….There She Is! Part 1 =-.

  6. I miss her so much. I remember when she brightened my days, but now it seems years since I witnessed her brilliance. I long for her warmth, for her gentle kiss, and her fiery passion.

    I miss the Sun.

    Montreal has had a REALLY shitty summer.

    (okay, so maybe that was more personification than metaphor, but I really do miss the Sun)
    .-= Adam Di Stefano´s last blog ..Ego-Marketing Is Killing Your Business, So Stop It =-.

  7. @ Adam – Dude, you serious? There’s only been, what, two days of rain since the 20th of August and 20+ temperatures and full sun every day!

    June and July sucked, though. And it’s bastard cold and grey today. What’s up with that?

  8. @James

    Ah I see. That does make a difference. I’m going to practice a bit more. It makes things easier to read and more fun.

    oh and

    @Barbara

    lol, love how you described that.
    .-= Chris Anderson´s last blog ..OMV Update Sept. 13th =-.

  9. Brilliant post, and I love the example of the french song. 🙂
    .-= Lost Wanderer´s last blog ..Afraid? Who Me? =-.

  10. @James – Tell anyone NOT from Montreal that 20+ degree temperatures (68 Fahrenheit) is all it takes for us to get excited and see what happens 🙂 But admittedly, you’re right, I’m being a bit of a whiner because today sucks.
    .-= Adam Di Stefano´s last blog ..Ego-Marketing Is Killing Your Business, So Stop It =-.

  11. Wow James – that was an awesome metaphor. But what on earth is a tangelo – something they eat in Quebec?

  12. I often do this in my posts, but it’s always good to refresh the reasoning behind it. It really does make a difference to how quickly you draw in your readers.

    Solid advice. Thanks!
    .-= Suzannah-Write It Sideways´s last blog ..Is Your Writer’s Block Just An Excuse? =-.

  13. James,

    Copyblogger link is buggered.

    ‘Fraid that is not a metaphor.

    Anyway, I Woke Last Night to the Sound of Thunder was my last attempt at weaving metaphor into a thought-piece, with seasonal change standing in for business transitions. Though it’s not a surprise ending, I do like to write that way; a sort of This = That kind of writing. I think I look for those connections in life, so it’s a natural way to write for me. Not sure it’s striiiictly metaphor, but let’s say it’s metaphorical.

    I love when you explain concepts like this. It makes me reexamine what I think I know about the idea.

    Regards,

    Kelly

    P.S. That chick needs food and some extra fabric for her pants. Just sayin’.
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..MCE Round Table: Top-Secret Ways To Deliver Delight! =-.

  14. @ Kelly – That buggered link – I frigged with that for freakin’ 15 minutes trying to get it to work before posting and it STILL won’t work.

    Lesson to all bloggers: Never have ‘ in your URL. Especially crooked ones.

    And hee! I love that you love when I explain things like this – I had fun writing this one and that you noticed makes me feel all warm fuzzies.

    Especially when I look at the photo that goes with this post. Mmhm. Just sayin’.

  15. I am not surprised at all that you like the picture of that chick.

    Please, when you see her, feed her for me. What’s she living on, broccoli? May I suggest some nice poutine?
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..MCE Round Table: Top-Secret Ways To Deliver Delight! =-.

  16. *squints*… She’s not *that* skinny…?

  17. *squints* Oh, yes she is…
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..MCE Round Table: Top-Secret Ways To Deliver Delight! =-.

  18. “I’m the puppet who comes to life every evening when the show begins, and dies right after it’s over. But when I’m alive those three hours, I see faces, hear laughter and feel a brief joy, and I don’t mind dying ’cause I know the job is done and people will take a smile home.”

    That means, I have a day job as a web designer and I can only do my freelance work when I come home after work. In other words, this rat racing deal is really hard man! specially after putting the kids to bed.

    Anyways. Brilliant post, great advice! Cheers.

  19. Hmm…no matter what I do it’s the picture of Taylor in a corset that sticks in my mind….

    Thanks for the excellent article and advice.

    peace, jamie

  20. Oh, these are fun. Thanks for the reminder! It’s especially fun to play with the way the same metaphor can give completely different impressions based on the voice of the speaker. For instance, I might say:

    “This post, James, was a bucket of cold, fresh water poured like a blessing on the sun-warmed heads of gleefully screaming girls.”

    But you could take that same vague image and make it:

    “This post, James, was a bucket of frigidly cold water dumped like urine from a tired mule on the sunburned faces of wailing teenagers.”

    I prefer the first for this one, I think. Great writing. 🙂

  21. Do mules have frigidly cold…

    Oh, nevermind.

    😉
    .-= Kelly´s last blog ..What Do Free Candy and Broken Windows Have in Common? =-.

  22. Okay, got the whole analogy vs. metaphor thing down pat. Now can you clarify similes?

  23. Argh, I was hoping no one would answer that question. I hate similies. They’re horrible to explain.

    So I rip this from Wikipedia:

    similes allow the two ideas to remain distinct in spite of their similarities, whereas metaphors compare two things without using “like” or “as”. For instance, a simile that compares a person with a bullet would go as follows: “John was a record-setting runner and as fast as a speeding bullet.” A metaphor might read something like, “John was a record-setting runner. That speeding bullet could zip past you without you even knowing he was there.”

    Like that helps clear up any confusion. Sheesh.

  24. Morgan -insertlastnameofyourchoicehere- says:

    Ok, so I really wanna try now;

    My fingers hold the key to something previously unlocked as I drag it across faultless plains of nothing but what could be, giving gray perspective to a field of nonexistant inspiration.

    I hesitate and lift my pencil from the paper, giving intrest to the fresh line.


    not quite a metaphor.
    I think it qualifies as a jumbled mass of incoherent text;
    CX S’all good

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