Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Bubble, bubble, simile trouble

It's awkward comparisons day in Creative Nonfiction class! I get to share the most cringe-inducing simile ever perpetrated by a student ("the aroma of the hot cocoa spiraled like a staircase up her nose") along with some winners gleaned from professional writers:

As he advanced…all his fat bulbs rose and shook and fell separately with each step, in the manner of clustered soap-bubbles not yet released from the pipe through which they had been blown. --Dashiell Hammett, The Maltese Falcon

The penguins tottered and clucked and dived, slipping off the habitat rocks like amiable hams but living under water like tuxedoed muscles. --Alice Sebold, The Lovely Bones
Norah Jones and her foot soldiers are organic, grass-fed artists taking back the castle from the injection-molded, poly-blend popbots. --Sasha Frere-Jones, The New Yorker

If that's not enough, I'll introduce my students to some of the many random simile generating machines available online. High Coup Journal, for instance offers up these gems:

Disappointment is like a can of ravioli.
Irritation is like Canada.
Sadness is like a rainbow.
Confidence is like a school play.

Or we'll head over to WritingFix's Serendipitous Simile Generator:

His greed was like a swimming pool.
Her apathy was like a birdcage.
His generosity was like a toolshed.

WritingFix offers helpful advice for teachers and writers using the Serendipitous Simile Generator, such as this inspiring paragraph:

Here's a hint to make a more successful simile.  Try adding an adjective in front of the Interesting Noun you're given.  For example, if you're dealt "His love is like a swimming pool," change it to "His love is like a crowded swimming pool," or "His love is like a public swimming pool," or "His love is like a well-chlorinated swimming pool" before writing your description.  And have serendipitous fun!

(Why would love need to be chlorinated? Maybe it's a hunk o' germy love.)

These sites may be as disappointing as a can of ravioli, but I've got more nourishing food at my beck and call (and I'm not talking about swimming hams): my students' essays. For every student who assaults my nasal passages with a staircase, I've got three capable of serving up macaroni and cheese so comforting it's like "a hug in a bowl." Mm-mm good, and it doesn't even need to be chlorinated.


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