Metaphors in erotic texts

The use of metaphors can make your erotic texts more striking, but there are a couple of pitfalls you should look out for.

What is a metaphor?

A metaphor is a form of imagery, which is expressed as an implicit (unspoken) comparison, in which an expression (sentence or phrase) has a non-literal meaning that is applicable by (more or less) recognizable attributes.

Simpler said: A metaphor states that one thing is another thing. It equates those two thing not because they are the same, but for the sake of comparison or symbolism.

Taking a metaphor literally, will probably sound very strange.

Take this famous quote from Romeo and Juliet by Shakespeare:

It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!

Of course Julia is not the glowing cloud of gas where one after another nuclear reaction takes place. The intrigued Romeo compares her warm, brilliant appearance to that of the sun.

The use of metaphors enables you as a writer to better convey the essence of what you want to show your reader and you dare the reader to read at an abstract level. Some metaphors are so embedded in our speech that they are not even recognized as metaphors anymore:

“All the world’s a stage.”

“He drowned in a sea of grief.”

Using metaphors

The use of metaphors when writing erotic fiction is very tempting, because a stimulating comparison can enhance the erotic content of your words. But, be careful. The use of metaphors can set the sphere of your story and using it the wrong way will bring the quality of your story straight down.

For instance, if you compare the softness of labia with the softness of a baby’s bottom, your reader will have an image in their mind they don’t want, but comparing the softness to velvet conveys a totally different image.

Here are some tips:

  • Only use a metaphor when it has added value in the sentence where you want to use it. Especially when you write erotic fiction it is tempting to use lots of metaphors, because you don’t have to call anything by the name.
  • A good metaphor must be original, not too far-fetched and understandable to the reader. Cliches as well as metaphors that the reader has to think about for too long will kill your story.
  • Metaphors that deal with feelings (emotions and physical sensations) work best. Metaphors for genitals and describing the deed itself quickly are ridiculous or conspicuous. You really need to keep this in mind.
  • Never use too many metaphors in your text as it makes your story too ‘flowery’ and therefore difficult to read.

Original Dutch text by Monica Roos, translated and adjusted for this site by Marie Rebelle
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