Writing Prompt: An Extended Analogy

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An analogy is a way of showing how two apparently unlike things are actually similar. One of the most famous modern analogies was spoken by Forrest Gump: “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you are going to get.”

Your job in this assignment is to explain something by using an extended analogy. Usually, an analogy is a way of making a complex or abstract idea easier to understand. By comparing something difficult to something ordinary and familiar, you can help your reader understand. It is an extended analogy because you will use the entire paper to explain the various ways in which your objects or ideas are similar.

The place to begin is by choosing an abstract concept (like friendship) and a concrete or familiar thing (like a sailboat). Your main analogy would then be, Friendship is like a sailboat.

Next, you’ll need to come up with at least three ways in which your two subjects are alike.

  1. Negotiating the rough seas of relationships takes patience and skill
  2. Friendship can be an exciting voyage.
  3. Without friends, we would be adrift and alone.

Once you’ve got your three supporting points, you can begin composing your first draft. Give at least one paragraph to each point and be sure to add a concluding paragraph.

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Below are some suggestions for abstract and familiar subjects to compare. You can choose any combination or select one that is not listed — these are just to get you thinking.

Abstract

Concrete/Familiar

life

courage

circus

strong shield

love

peace

rocking chair

blind man

happiness

Christianity

diamond

gentle stream

anger

the United States

jungle

space voyage

hatred

philosophy

volcano

zoo

prejudice

patriotism

baseball

warm blanket

family

insanity

a dark basement

prison

friendship

addiction

butterfly

dark alley

faith

grace

handcuffs

sunset

One of the keys to a paper like this is creativity and insight. Do your best to think in a way that is fresh and original. Don’t make your observations obvious. You want to give your reader a new look at the concept you have selected.

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About the Author

Brian Wasko

Brian WaskoBrian is the founder and president of WriteAtHome.com. One of his passions is to teach young people how to write better.View all posts by Brian Wasko

  1. Marcia
    Marcia11-04-2015

    I love this idea! My student/son compared life to a rocking chair. It was rather thoughtful.
    Thank you for the list of writing prompts.

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