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Exercise: Similes at work

These exercises were written by IWW members and administrators to provide structured practice opportunities for its members. You are welcome to use them for practice as well. Please mention that you found them at the Internet Writers Workshop (http://www.internetwritingworkshop.org/).

Prepared by: Ruth Douillette
Posted on: Sunday, January 13, 2008
Reposted on: Sunday, August 9, 2009
Reposted on: Sunday, October 17, 2010
Reposted on: Sunday, September 29, 2013
Reposted on: Sunday, Februrary 22, 2015

Exercise: In 400 words or less, write the beginning of a scene in which you describe a person, place, or thing using one or two similes.


Similes, when sprinkled sparingly, add interest to a story. Used effectively they can show the reader an element of your story faster and more effectively than straight description. Too many, and they begin to jar the reader; too far off the mark, and they look silly.

Be alert in everyday life for the things that remind you of something else and you'll have similes at your fingertips when you need them to add a visual image to your writing:
Grandma's skin draped her face like the folds of the bedspread she'd slept under since she was thirteen.

Grandma's skin was as smooth as river rocks, and just as firm.

Both similes give an instant picture of grandma, and are more visual than a basic description: Grandma was wrinkled.

These similes were visual, but you may use any of the five senses.


Exercise: In 400 words or less write the beginning of a scene in which you describe a person, place, or thing using one or two similes.


Critique by commenting on the effectiveness of the similes to enhance the description. Were the similes fresh and original?

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Modified by Gayle Surrette.