A Lesson in SIMILE

Whether you’ve stumbled upon this section of my website by accident, or if you zapped one of the QR codes in my latest publication, WELCOME!

O, this poem is like so, so overdone

That it’s forever lodged in my head;

Oh, this poem’s so perfect for teaching similes

That it’s what’s proceeding ahead …

Similes have a unique way of wiggling themselves into our everyday language and thoughts. We’re always making comparisons between things. We just do. Robert Burn’s poem capitalizes on comparing red roses among other things to love or as the poets in the 1700s would say, “luve,”  (go ahead and let it roll off your tongue with a purr in that swagger-inducing accent you hear in your head. You know you want to. Do it. Duuuu it.)

The cool thing about similes is they bring anything to life including that first line of your writing called a hook that you’ve been banging your head against your keyboard over trying to come up with for hours. Be it a novel, short story, or even an expository term paper, it’s a guarantee you’ll reel your reader in with a simile because it forces one’s imagination to action.

Slip this poetic device into your stanzas and build a thought-bank of comparisons for your reader to mull over. People will nom those similes up like a never-ending bucket of popcorn. Striking on imagery and complementing other devices such as hyperboles and personification, similes beguile because they require tangible items to get their creativity on.

Here are some emotions, objects (concrete nouns), and personality attributes that pair well in comparison with concrete images.

Mix and match or chose a word and create your own personalized list:

Affectionate   Angry     Brave     Clever    Extravagant

Happiness   Helpless  Joyful  Love    Lonely

Neurotic    Outgoing   Patriotic    Pleasant   Reserved

Sad   Shy   Sophisticated   Tender Troubled

Uplifting   Visionary     Venturesome   Wise   Young

Apple Orchard   Atomic Bomb   Butterfly   Bull   Campfire

Candlelight   Castle   City Lights   Dungeon     Earth

Fireplace   Home   Horseback    Jungle   Laboratory

Meteor Shower   Mountains   Rainbow   Seaside   Sky Scrapers

Space   Street Lamps   Trees   Urban Streets   Wild West

STORM: abandoned, beach house, bitter cold, blanketed, blizzard, cabin, chilling, cottage, crackling, darkness, droplets, electric, flashes, frost, hail, hurricane, ice, lightning, pelting, pressure, rain, rattling, sleet, snow, snowflakes, stillness, thunder, tornado, winter, wind

EXAMPLE: The troubled pain in her eyes gripped me like a lightning storm, as she flashed bitter cold resentment in a single glare before walking away–my words of ending ‘us’ abandoned in the stillness she left behind without a word.

SUNSHINE: apples, berries, boats, breeze, bright, cabin, clouds, coconut, cotton, fruit, grass, hammock, heat, iced tea, jam, lemonade, mountains, pineapples, sailing, sand, strawberries, summer, sun rays, sweet, warm, white picket fence, whispering, wild flowers, windy

EXAMPLE: Happiness broke loose in her heart like sun (rays bursting free from behind a solitary cloud, scattering her mournful thoughts as memories of making homemade jam with wild strawberries gathered on her grandparents’ summer property invaded her mind when she stepped into the aging cabin in the mountains.

Yes, I have been known to write the world’s longest sentences. Please, forgive me.)

Here’s another exercise for you to play around with. Try to incorporate these sensuous elements into a verse that includes a comparison of something totally unrelated. I bet you’ll be a pro at it in no time!

Looks like a pile of cogs and gears

Tastes like a bag of stale bagels

Smells like a bouquet of wild flowers

Feels like a crisp stack of a million dollars

Sounds like a heart beating in love

Sweet like a little kid’s lollipop

Putrid like a drain

Fragrant like a bottle of the sweetest French perfume

Painful like a knife to the heart

Cleansing like a deluge of fragrant, summer rain

Healing like the veins of gold holding broken china together (kintsugi)

Now, go forth, you cultivator of cool beans, and find that perfect pairing to match up and stuff in a poem like a __________. I can’t wait for you to share your poetry with me!

~Brooke E. Wayne


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Brooke E. Wayne: Romance with a Kiss of Humor

Inspired by Love and Laughter, Romantic Comedy Author