Using literary metaphors in your writing makes your writing seem smarter, as long as you use them correctly. If you muff it, however, it can have the opposite effect.
For instance, in explaining how President Obama forged a bipartisan agreement with Capitol Hill Republicans to avoid another federal government shutdown last fall, Washington Post columnist Zachary A. Goldfarb wrote, “Obama gave the flimsiest of fig leaves to the Republicans.” Only if he were trying to cover up his nudity, actually; olive branches would have been more appropriate here.
In another instance last year, The Post reported, “The sale of football tickets and fundraising will be the keys for Maryland as it digs itself out of a financial hole.” Perhaps, but climbing out of the hole would be a better strategy. Digging would likely get Maryland further into the hole.
Let’s hope that under the ownership of Amazon.com mogul Jeff Bezos The Post will remain at the forefront of American journalism over a range of media. Hiring more copy editors would provide a good initial boost.
If you’re not Jeff Bezos, you might still need to hire an editor before you turn an olive branch into a fig leaf.