Thursday, December 23, 2010

Writing Tip (4): Comparison

My second blog interview is up over at Marieke's Musings!


Taken from "The First Five Pages", by Noah Lukeman...

A picture is worth a thousand words, and when you use a comparison (by 'comparison' I mean analogy, simile or metaphor) you draw a picture, often with the goal of helping the reader grasp a difficult idea. Comparison is one of the few devices that really puts a writer's skill in the spotlight because it offers the most room for a writer to 'turn it on', to indulge the limits of his creative expression.


  • Take an object in your room and come up with ten comparisons for it. For the first five comparisons, use similes; for the next five, use metaphors. For instance, 'The dresser, tall and narrow, looked like an upright coffin'; and then 'The dresser, tall and narrow, was an altar.' Don't let yourself use cliched comparisons, and make sure each on is truly enlightening, teaching us something we don't already know about the object.
  • Now come up with ten comparisons (similes and metaphors) to describe the action that same object is taking. For instance, 'The dresser leaned against the wall like a bored security guard'; and then 'The dresser, leaning against the wall, was an abandoned baseball bat.'
  • Now do the same exercise, but instead of an object, use a person. Do it again for a person's characteristics, his demeanour, his mood. Then do the exercise for settings in general, for moods in general. Finally, do the exercise for anything at all in your manuscript that you've been wanting to describe with greater precision, anywhere you feel you haven't quite said all you wanted to say, or anywhere you had a strong visual image in mind and didn't quite convey it.

Warning: you definitely don't want to overdo it though!

~ ~ ~

Okay. Don't judge. Here are some of my own attempts at comparisons!

- The pencil case bulged like a ready-to-pop seed pod.
- The pencil case, long and bulging, was a slug on my desk.

- The curtain fluttered like the wings of an injured bird.
- The curtain, white and billowing against the black night, was a ghost.

- The hatstand stood solemnly in the corner, like a butler waiting with an umbrella on one arm and a hat on the other.
- The hatstand, with its odd assortment of garments, was a scarecrow in the corner.


The Golden Eagle said...

I should try that sometime! Thanks for the writing tip. :)

I love the last comparison you posted about the hatstand.

Summer Ross said...

great exercise! I'm gonna try it out. Thanks for posting this.

Colene Murphy said...

Thanks! Going to try it out!!

Kari Marie said...

Great exercises. I'll give them a try. Thanks for posting.

Sonia said...

I really like this one: The pencil case bulged like a ready-to-pop seed pod.

good exercise