Wednesday, April 8, 2015

How to Write Similes that Punch!

It’s Poetry Month!  Everyone’s dusting off their similes.  So come on, let’s shine one up:
Earth is like a boat…

…because they’re both floating, they’re both alone, traveling across long distances, carrying people.

But a ship is not the first simile to come to mind. 

When you ask a kid, at first they might say:  Earth is like a…planet.

No, you say, Earth is a planet.  Tell me something different that Earth is like.  It can be the same color, shape, size, texture, or action as Earth—but otherwise very different.

OK, Earth is like an apple because they’re both round.

That’s good.  Now let’s go deeper.  What’s the same color AND shape?  Earth is like a blueberry.  They are both blue and round.  And besides that they are both fragile and easily destroyed.
Very good!  What else?  Earth is like an eye.  An eye can be green and blue, and, like the people on Earth, it sees stuff.  You can even ask of the Earth, “What have you seen?”

So, which simile packs the most emotional punch?

That depends.   What else do you want to say about the Earth?  Is it crowded—like a zoo?  Is it big and lonely—like a blue whale?
Is it alive—like a garden?  Or desolate—like a desert?

Simile isn’t just a matter of finding something similar.  It’s finding the thing that’s the most similar to how you feel about your object.

Go deeper…

Pack an emotional punch…

Once you get the hang of similes, you can’t stop noticing connections and associations.  An iguana is like a pickle, because they’re both green, bumpy and strange.  A spider is like a robber because they’re both creeping and frightening.  A sea shell is like a cave, because they both have deep, dark spaces.  A flower is like a soldier, because they both stand tall and weather a storm.

If you teach your kids to write spectacular poems with similes that “punch,” they’ll never see the world the same.  Because then, all of life will be like a poem!

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