Poetry · Writing

“Like” and “As” are Dead

As with all writing advice, please take this with a grain of salt, since you are the ultimate judge of your own writing.

Like and As are dead. They are not a graveyard. They are not part of a dead language. They are just two words in our poetic lexicon that have been overused in verse.

It is a poet’s job to tell their reader that things are Like or As other things. But to use Like and As is too direct. It is unrolling a map and pointing to the coordinates while saying the name of the place out loud. 

Sure, the flower is like love and the sun is as life and the night is like death. But it’s the poet’s job to connect two images and complete their thought process without the simplicity of two plus two equals four. The poet must shed new light on a familiar concept, and Like and As only shine a flashlight into the sun.

This is the difference between a simile and a metaphor. A simile will say that a book is like a bright future or as an opportunity. But a metaphor will say that a waterlogged book simultaneously portrays a character’s potential and foreshadows a death by drowning.

Like and As are in many classic and modern works, and they have their place in history’s literature. But I challenge you, writer-reader, to go through your writing and find all instances of Like or As, and then try to replace those words with a new connection. Build the metaphor’s bridge out of stone instead of wood. 

Hold funerals for Like and As if you’re so inclined, and visit their graves to leave fresh flowers every now and then. But leave Like and As to the poems of the past, and let your writing grow stronger.

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