I found a great exercise for young writers that begins like this:
“Are you more like a rock or a feather? summer or winter? the city or the country? Which word [in a pair of very different things] best describes you, your personality, your dreams?”
The idea was developed by a teacher from Georgia, Dick Fuller, who first used it to inspire outdoor education classes. The idea is simple. Students “have to choose one – the one that describes them the best – and they have to be able to explain why they made the choice.”
That article (on Education World online) offers some other pairs:
- rock band or string quartet?
- clothesline or kite string?
- river or pond?
- bat or ball?
You can think of your own. Pick two specific things that are opposites or very different (tornado or light breeze, step-ladder or catapult, etc.)
Think about their qualities. Now, which of those qualities describe you in some way? Why?
This is a great idea for a poem (or a personal profile). Write a short poem or a paragraph for your writing journal that uses that imagery.
It helps you think of how one thing (a rock, a feather) is like something else . . . you!
Note: If you want, you can be both: I’m a rock because . . . I’m a feather because . . . The idea is to get you thinking (and writing) in concrete images.
[For those who like terms:]
A simile is when something is like something else. I am like a kite string.
A metaphor is when you say something is something else. I am a rock. I am a [whatever].
Don’t be afraid to be something surprising! The idea: to learn to write more colorfully . . . to think about how to describe (a little bit) of a person’s nature by comparison with something we know well.
Like a rock or a feather.
Which are you?
Pick one and tell me why.