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IWW Practice-W Exercise Archives
Exercise: Metaphor (V. 2)

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.internetwritingwor kshop.org/).

Prepared by: Patricia Johnson
Posted on: 25 Feb 2001
Reposted on: 17 Feb 2002
Reposted on: 28 Feb 2005
Reposted on: 2 Jul 2006
Reposted, revised, on: 13 July 2008


Exercise: Metaphor

Exercise: In 300 words or less, create a scene that includes at least one metaphor. Make sure it is
relevant to the story.


Metaphors and similes are common tools used by writers to make comparisons. Both help to increase
understanding in an original and effective way.

The difference between the two, simply put, is that a metaphor equates one thing with another. A simile
doesn't go quite that far; it states that one thing is LIKE another. Examples:


This guy is a thorn in my side.

Fog creeps in on little cat feet. (—Carl Sandburg)

Elizabeth Bishop's poem "Armadillo" uses this metaphor to describe a baby rabbit:

so soft!-a handful of intangible ash/ with fixed, ignited eyes.

Sandra McPherson in "Alleys" uses this metaphor to describe the first flower
she picked for her husband:

It is
Not even a withered flower anymore,
But the dust of the first thing I did for him.


This guy is like a thorn in my side.

(Don't confuse this with the Valley Girl metaphor: This guy is, like, a thorn in my side.)

A good metaphor is original, fresh and revealing, and does not have to explain itself. It is closer to
understatement than to exaggeration. To work, no matter how abstract, a metaphor must be on target
and truthful without being farfetched. It must also avoid clichés. Sometimes an author will extend a
metaphoric idea with many variances within a single story or poem.


Exercise: In 300 words or less, create a scene that includes at least one metaphor. Make sure it is
relevant to the story.


Critiquing: Does the metaphor "work"? Is it appropriate? Does it convey the message the writer
intended? And critique the writing in general, as usual.

Web site created by Rhéal Nadeau and the administrators of the Internet Writing Workshop.
Modified by Gayle Surrette.