Writing Tip #42: Use Figures of Speech: Similes


Brian's Writing Tip #42: Use figures of speech: Similes

Use figures of speech: Similes. Of the figures of speech, similes are among the most common. A simile is a direct comparison, where the writer describes by comparing something to something else. Similes include the comparison words “like” or “as.” Avoid all of the numerous simile clichés: red as a rose, dead as a doornail, light as a feather. Similes should evoke fresh, vivid images. They should be clear, so that the point of comparison is evident. They should, at times, startle. Literature is rich with surprising and vigorous similes:

“In the eastern sky there was a yellow patch like a rug laid for the feet of the coming sun.” – The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane

“The water made a sound like kittens lapping.” – The Yearling, by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

“Camperdown, Copenhagen, Trafalgar – these names thunder in memory like the booming of great guns.” – Mutiny on the Bounty, by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall

~Examples taken from DailyWritingTips.com, “20 Great Similes from Literature to Inspire You”


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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. student

    Hi, Brian, I have a question. In the latest Old Navy commercial, Amy Poehler stormed off exclaiming, “Art is dead, those jeans are alive!” My question: which, if any, of these sentences are correct ways of saying the same statement?

    A. Art is dead, those jeans are alive!

    B. Art is dead; those jeans are alive!

    C. Art is dead. Those jeans are alive!

    D. Art is dead–those jeans are alive!

    thank you!

    • Brian Wasko
      Brian Wasko08-26-2014

      Hey, are you trying to take my job as Grammar Challenge creator? 🙂

      Sentence A is a comma splice, so I wouldn’t do it that way. You could probably get away with D, but punctuation sticklers don’t like it when dashes connect independent clauses.

      Your best bets are B or C. Both are fine grammatically.

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