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Write Right

Writing Tip of the Week

How to Make Your Writing More Colourful

Figurative language to a writer is like a colour palette to an artist. It creates mental pictures with words that otherwise might fall flat. She was as plain as a slice of bread packs more punch than She was plain.

Figurative language communicates emotional content, too. Consider When his girlfriend discovered his lies he hung his head in shame as opposed to When his girlfriend discovered his lies he was embarrassed. In simple terms, it makes your writing more colourful.

What exactly is figurative language?

It's language that is used to convey something that is different from the literal definition of the word. Idioms, which are figures of speech, show this well:

Hit the nail on the head (to do something exactly right).

See eye to eye (two or more people agree on something).

Costs an arm and a leg (an item is expensive).

The ball is in your court (It's up to you to make the next decision).

Following are some variations of figurative language that will embellish your prose or poetry:

1. Personification

To give a human characteristic to something that is not human

(The wind howled outside his door.)

2. Alliteration

To repeat the same sound of the first or second letter in a string of words (The rumble of thunder rolled across the rooftop.)

3. Hyperbole

To exaggerate a characteristic or situation often with humour (His feet were the size of his pontoon boat.)

4. Metaphor

To make a comparison between two things that aren't alike but have something in common (The lake was a mirror.)

5. Simile

To make a comparison between two things using "like" or "as"

(Her eyes were like the stars.)

6. Onomatopoeia

When the name of the action imitates the sound it makes (The champagne cork popped.)

7. Assonance

To repeat the vowel sound in a group of words (Go and mow the lawn, Joe.)

8. Idiom

To use words or phrases that aren't meant to be taken literally (He got cold feet before his wedding and left his girlfriend at the altar.)

9. Cliché

To use ideas or phrases that once were thought-provoking but have become unoriginal with overuse (He woke up on the wrong side of the bed; He is brave as a lion; All that glitters is not gold)

And speaking of Clichés . . . the following similes have been used too much. I challenge you to come up with some better similes and comment below.

Good Luck!

As black as coal

As light as a feather

As clean as a whistle

As sharp as a tack (needle, razor)

As quick as a flash

As hungry as a bear

As heavy as lead

As bright as the sun

As green as grass

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