Narrative Writing


Adding Figurative Language

A "figure of speech" is a word or phrase that forces the reader to use their imagination. Figures of speech include personification, hyperbole, metaphors, and similes. Here is a quick introduction to these techniques. (We will study them in greater detail in the unit called Literary Terms.)

Personification is giving human qualities to inanimate objects.

Hyperbole is exaggeration:

A metaphor is an implied comparison of one thing in terms of another:

A simile is a direct comparison using "like" or "as":

Here is some good advice from a book on writing:

A good figure of speech will not only strike the reader as clever, but often will have a certain resonance.

How can you find apt figures of speech for your own writing?

You really don't have to be a genius. What it takes is practice. Whenever you write narrative, try to find as many apt figures of speech as you can. When you're writing a rough draft put them down whenever they occur to you even if they sound a little foolish; you can always tinker with them later. Whenever you have a vague adjective describing something, try to find a comparison to make the description more vivid, and try to make it resonate. If a character is tall, how tall? Tall as what? Smart, how smart? Smart as what? A puppy is cute. How cute? Cute as what? If you keep trying you will find good figures of speech come more easily to you.

Key Point:

Instructions for the Quiz

Match the term with the definition.