It was a dark and stormy metaphor…

by Michelle Gagnon

So I was inspired this week by the recent Bulwer-Lytton prize for bad writing, which went to the brutally mangled metaphor, “Cheryl’s mind turned like the vanes of a wind-powered turbine, chopping her sparrow-like thoughts into bloody pieces that fell onto a growing pile of forgotten memories.”

Wow. Tough to beat. But here’s my challenge: let’s try. American academic Sue Fondrie’s disturbing description of thoughts like mutilated sparrows has been declared the worst sentence of the year.
I think we can top it. This was the shortest sentence to ever win the prize, so extra points will be conferred for brevity.

I’ve certainly had some humdingers in my day, most of which were thankfully edited out of the finished product. But imagine what would transpire if you really let loose?

Some other examples, presented for your enjoyment:

Her face was a perfect oval, like a circle that had its two other sides gently compressed by a Thigh Master.

His thoughts tumbled in his head, making and breaking alliances like underpants in a dryer without Cling Free.

She caught your eye like one of those pointy hook latches that used to dangle from screen doors and would fly up whenever you banged the door open again.

The little boat gently drifted across the pond exactly the way a bowling ball wouldn’t.

Her hair glistened in the rain like nose hair after a sneeze.

Her eyes were like two brown circles with big black dots in the center.

He was as tall as a six-foot-three-inch tree.


And here’s my submission:

“He wept, and the tears fell like a thousand tiny lemmings leaping from the precipice into a black void.”

Do you have a truly awful metaphor lurking in the depths of your cranial cavity like a really bad thing hiding in a very dark place, yearning for the light of day? Have at it…similes are also welcome.

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25 thoughts on “It was a dark and stormy metaphor…

  1. She was instantly attracted to him like a moth to one of those new government mandated, energy efficient light bulbs, the ones with the swirly shape like ice cream from a machine.

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  2. She liked her coffee black; black like the looming abyss of her future, void of hope, love, and never-to-be fulfilled dreams.

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  3. She was deceptively sweet looking he knew, like the time in college he bit into an tasty looking apple tart only to find the essence of someone’s bile puke had soaked into it during a mad drunken party.

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  4. He was handsome in the way some people find a SharPei handsome, which is to say he looked like a wrinkled old dog which is cool if you’re a SharPei but won’t get you chicks in a night club.

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  5. “Can you take me to the airport?” she pleaded, her words plunging straight into my heart, and I knew, in that instant, that she wasn’t asking me, she was telling me – telling me that she had had enough, that she was getting on that plane whether I took her or not; so I flipped on the meter, turned up my radio and called my cousin Mahmoud, so I wouldn’t have to listen to her whining the whole way in the back seat, because, uch, that’s annoying.

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  6. “It’s over,” she said, her words plunging into my heart like a 1984 Greg Louganis, then pulling themselves out my heart-pool, standing on the deck of what was left of my soul and looking up at the scoreboard of our relationship to see that, yes, she had won a gold medal…in being a huge bitch.

    [I didn’t follow the simile/metaphor directions when I posted at 3:18…]

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  7. From kimchi to coffee to Sharpeis to Louganis: the gloves have clearly come off. And Basil deserves a special prize for sheer volume of bad metaphors/similes…

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  8. We edged past him into the cave. It was a huge cavern, cold underground and illuminated pale blue, like the pirates skin, from beneath the tidal pool that gurgled up wetting everything. It was ghostly.

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  9. Orelia had the kind of beauty that made men leave their families and end up in a podunk midwestern jail on a bench warrant for a $50K child support arrearage, with interest.

    Oh wait, that really happens. Yeah, I’m a child support enforcement officer . . .

    Terri (I know where you are working . . . I know how much you’ve paid . . . I know if you are current or not, so the jive you can just save . . . (everybody sing!)

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  10. Many years ago I placed in a local contest with this entry:

    The announcer screamed, “with that successful victory,the team is undefeated, having won eight straight consecutive games in a row without a loss,” somewhere in the darkness, the crowd went wild.

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