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Create Your Own Metaphors

(And a Few Similes for Good Measure)


Woman Using Pen and Notebook
Studio MPM / The Image Bank / Getty Images
I've been consistently surprised at the effect of this exercise, adapted from one by Linnea Johnson in the excellent book The Practice of Poetry (edited by Robin Behn and Chase Twichell), on both my students' writing and my own. Though actually for poets, it's helpful for anyone who wants to focus on figurative language. Even if none of these exact metaphors and similes show up in your writing, your brain will be more likely to come up with them naturally having warmed up with the exercise.

Feel free to consult these examples of metaphor before doing the exercise.

Finish each phrase with whatever metaphor or simile comes immediately to mind.

To really get the most of the exercise, don't worry about coming up with something good, just write. The whole idea is to get your subconscious to make connections in a new, more creative way.

  1. Blue paint spilled on the road like___________________________.

  2. Canceled checks in the abandoned subway car


  3. A spider under the rug is like___________________________.

  4. Graffiti on the abandoned building like___________________________.

  5. Nothing was the same, now that it was___________________________.

  6. The dice rolled out of the cup toward Veronica


  7. A child in _________________ is like a _______________ in


  8. _________________is like muscles stretched taut over bone.

  9. The fog plumed through gunshot holes in the car windows like ___________________________.

  10. She held her life in her own hands as if it were___________________________.

  11. Lacey poured coffee down her throat as if ___________________________.

  12. If I should wake before I die,___________________________.

  13. The security guard walks the lobby as if___________________________.

  14. The library books left in the rain like___________________________.

  15. Music in the hallway like___________________________.

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