|as spectacular as nature|
You can tell if a phrase is a simile if it includes the words "like" or "as":
- his eyes were like the sun
- she was as smart as a fox
The problem with similes is that they are often overused, which turns them into the dreaded cliché:
- bright as a button
- mad as a hatter
- hot as hell
However with a little thought, you can, and should, be creative with them. How about:
- he shook like a whore in church (I don't think that's a cliché but you can correct me)
- the men looked like trees walking
- His diet was as healthy as a Greasy Spoon's menu list.
- She looked as though she'd been poured into her clothes and forgotten to say "when" (P.G. Wodehouse)
In a few words you can conjure up a delightful picture in your reader's mind. But don't overdo it, otherwise your reader will have to work too hard at following your prose.
Metaphors have more depth. A metaphor, according to dictionary.com, is a figure of speech in which a term or phrase is applied to something else to which it is not literally applicable.
- This one's from Raymond Chandler: I bent over and took hold of the room with both hands and spun it. When I had it nicely spinning I gave it a full swing and hit myself on the back of the head with the floor.
- The cruise ship was a floating Disney Land.
- Here's a lovely metaphor in "Stop all the Clocks" by W.H. Auden:
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever. I was wrong.
If you've never visited this invaluable site, or if you'd like to know more about metaphors and similes, take a look at Bookshelf Muse.