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