U1 Writing Practice

Practice writing using literary devices that you learned in U1 Reading and U1 Listening. 

Similes and Metaphors

You can use similes and metaphors to express ideas through comparisons. Because similies and metaphors are comparisons between two unlike things, it may take time to brainstorm ideas to express the idea you want through the comparison. You will have a topic that you want to write about and an idea you want to express about that topic, so you will need to think of an unlike thing that you could compare your topic to that expresses that idea.

When writing similies it is important to use the words "like" or "as" between the two things being compared. You may use the sentence construction "X is like Y" which compares two nouns or " Subject verb object like Y" which compares the action rather than the noun. When using "as", you will probably use the constructions "X is (adjective) as Y" or "X is as (adjective) as Y". When you write a metaphor do not use "like" or "as". The comparison relationship should be strong enough to be obvious without "like" or "as". 

When you are revising a poem, you may look for areas where a comparison will make your writing stronger. You change your sentences to include a simile or metaphor in those places. You may also need to make changes so that the two things you are comparing are not too similar or even not the same thing. For example, "The dog was like a big canine." is not a useful simile. "dog" and "canine" are synonyms. This sentence says "The dog was like a big dog." That is not a comparison between two unlike things. This simile needs to be revised to include a more unlike thing such as "The dog was like a mountain." The thing being used for the comparison needs to be unique and make the comparison idea clear to the reader.

When editing a comparison, there are a few things to pay attention to. These include making sure the sentence is a complete sentence, making sure that similies include "like" and "as", and making sure that "as" similies have the correct word order in the sentence's construction. 


Bob wants to write about a house. The idea he wants to express about the house is that the house is big, but he wants to do that by making a comparison. He thinks of many things that are big and makes the list below in his head. 

  • mountains
  • oceans
  • skyscrapers
  • elephants
  • planets
  • cargo ships
  • mansions
  • airplanes

After thinking of large things, he narrows down his list to find which would best express his idea. He gets rid of things that are houses or buildings because they are too house-like (skyscrapers, mansions) and he gets rid of things that are not the same size as a large house (mountains, oceans, elephants, planets, cargo ships). He decides to use airplanes to make his comparison.

  • mountains
  • oceans
  • skyscrapers
  • elephants
  • planets
  • cargo ships
  • mansions
  • airplanes

Also because he is writing about one house, he decides to use the singular "airplane" in his comparison. 

  • airplane

He creates this sentence:

The house was a big as an airplane.

He then decides to revise his simile to be more specific. Some privately owned planes can be fairly small. So he decides to use the name of a large type of airplane. He uses a 747 airplane instead. 

The house was a big as a 747 airplane. 

Bob reviews his sentence for any editing he needs to do. He notices that he only wrote "a" instead of "as". He corrects this spelling mistake and publishes the final version of his metaphor. 

The house was as big as a 747 airplane. 

Exercise 1.23

Write comparisons using "like" or "as". Complete the simile by writing "like" or "as". 

1. Her smile was __________ a summer rose blooming. 

2. The pan was a __________ hot __________ the sands of the Saharan desert.

3. The idea was __________ slippery fish. 

4. The children grew __________ weeds.

5. The grapes were __________ refreshing __________ a pool on a hot summer day.

Write comparisons using like or as. Fill in the missing adjective or adverb.

6. The day was as __________ as a new light bulb. 

7. He is as __________ as springtime. 

8. Her hug was as __________ as a fluffy sweater in autumn. 

9. The lion roared __________    __________ as a jet plane taking off. 

10. The buildings rose __________    in the air like a forest of Redwood giants. 

Exercise 1.24

Write comparisons without using "like" or "as". Complete the metaphor by writing a noun or noun phrase to compare the first topic to.

1. The drizzly, wet autumn day was a(n) _________________________________________________________.

2. The painting in the museum was a(n) _________________________________________________________.

3. A newfound friend is a(n) _________________________________________________________. 

4. The little bird was a(n) _________________________________________________________. 

5. Education is a(n) _________________________________________________________.

Write comparisons without using "like" or "as". Complete the metaphor by writing 2 noun phrases. 

6. ______________________ was a(n) ______________________. 

7. ______________________ was a(n) ______________________. 

8. ______________________ slowly stopped, a(n) ______________________. 

9. ______________________ quietly slept, a(n) ______________________

Exercise 1.25

Revise the following sentences to be similies. 

1. I saw the ocean for the first time. It was very wide and open. 

2. The cheese smelled bad. Old socks smell bad. 

3. I entered the room. The way I entered the room reminded me of movie stars on the red carpet. 

Revise the following sentences to be metaphors. 

4. The hat was distracting. Sirens are loud and noticeable. 

5. The page in the book was blank. A sky without clouds is empty. 

6. Hope is a strong idea. Wrestlers are strong.

Exercise 1.26

Revise and edit the following similies and metaphors to be better. Write a better version of each sentence. 

1. The bird was like a fast bird. 

2. The crowd of people is as quiet a library. 

3. We saw a tree tall as the Empire State Building. 

4. The victory was as delicious as a delicious thing. 

5. My room was messy. 

6. I wanted ice cream a person in the desert wants water. 


Imagery is descriptive writing that creates an image or picture in the mind of the reader. To write with imagery, you can describe people, settings, or actions and use specific words rather than general words. To brainstorm ideas to include in your imagery, you can create a mental image yourself. What image or metal movie do you want the reader to think of as they read? Imagine that image or mental movie in your own mind. Then write your ideas using descriptions and/or specific words. 

When describing people, settings, or actions, you will need to decide how long the description will be. It can either be long if it is the focus of the writing or it can be short to give more space and attention to other ideas in a poem. For example, a poem that is mostly about describing the beauty of the city could use long descriptions, but a poem about the life of a dog in a city might have many shorter descriptions so the focus stays on the many things from the dog's life rather than one specific thing.

Even in parts of a poem where you are not describing things, you can use specific words that carry a lot of meaning to create an image in the reader's mind. For example, "run" is general and does not make a clear picture in the reader's mind, but "sprint" creates a clear picture of someone running very fast in the reader's mind. You can use a thesaurus to find more descriptive words to use to add imagery to your writing. 

When revising, you may decide to change where to include long or short descriptions depending on the focus you want to have. If you decide that you actually want to focus on a different idea than you originally included more description for, then you may need to delete or minimize the description in that part of the poem and put more in another part of the poem. You may also decide to not include any description to give more focus to the actions of the poem. You may also need to change the word choices to be closer to the idea you want to express. For example, if you actually wanted to say "ran fast to be faster than someone else" instead of "ran fast", you might change the poem to use "race" instead of "sprint".

When editing imagery, you may encounter many small mistakes to fix given the diverse ways imagery can be included. Therefore, You can edit for grammar mistakes in general and spelling mistakes with possibly unfamiliar descriptive words. 

Exercise 1.27

Draw a picture based on the words listed below. What picture comes to your mind when you read this description? Your answer may be different than your classmates' answers. 

 Description: There rose a mighty mountain in the distance with snow capping its peak and full pine trees a deep dark green, so deep it was almost black, that blanketed its sides. Before the mountains lay a wide mud-colored bay of water that later, much farther out to sea, joined the rough crashing waves of the ocean. On the calm waters of the bay, there was a small worn boat that smelled of old fish and unwashed fishermen. The salty breeze pushed away from the stink of the boat, so the captain, standing alone at the wheel, was not bothered by it. Although, he was an old, old sea captain and hardly smelled the stink of the fish anymore. 

Exercise 1.28

Write as many adjectives to describe the picture below in 2 minutes. 

Image: Kayleigh Harrington, 2017


Exercise 1.29

Describe the picture below using all 5 senses. 

a fish market

Image: Skitterphoto, 2015

  • Sight:
  • Sound:
  • Smell:
  • Taste:
  • Touch: 

Exercise 1.30

Revise the following sentences to include imagery. Keep the number of sentences in each revision the same. 


The tide was strong. →  The tide pulled and pushed the waves higher and higher up the beach, destroying sandcastles and driving away the tourists.    (1 sentence → 1 sentence)

The moon was bright. I could see all the hills. → The white sphere of the moon blazed in the night sky. Below, I could see across all of the rolling hills. (1 sentence → 1 sentence)

1. The lake was blue. 

2. The meal smelled good. 

3. My father worked hard at his job.

4. It rained at the wedding. The couple getting married was rained on but still got married. 

5. Chocolate tastes good. Eating it can make a person's day better. 

6. Cameras take pictures of beautiful scenes. 

Exercise 1.31

Part A

Revise and edit the lines from the poem below to have better imagery. 

1. The river was slow.

2. It was covered in ice and snow.

3. Beneath the icy cap, the water still flow. 

4. It went through the town like an icy road. 

Part B

Rewrite the final version on a piece of paper and share it with a partner to publish it. 


Onomatopoeias are the sounds that something makes written as words. Some examples of onomatopoeias are "bark", the sound a dog makes, and "crash" a loud sound made by something falling or running into something else. Onomatopoeias are different in different languages, so you may need to study a list of them online or with a native speaker to learn them. You can also see the list below. In writing, especially in poetry, they may be used by themselves rather than in a sentence such as "Crash. The book fell.".  They can be used in a sentence, usually with the word "hear" or "made" or as a verb. For example, "I heard a crash" and "The dog barked." use onomatopoeias. You may also use onomatopoeias in their gerund form by adding "ing" such as in "barking" or "crashing". You can also create your own onomatopoeias to use in writing by listening to the sounds around you and trying to spell them using letters. You can include onomatopoeias in the prewriting step of writing your poetry, by thinking of the sounds made by things or actions in your poem. Then, you will need to decide if including that sound will improve your poem. 


Some Onomatopoeias

  • bam
  • flop
  • rattle
  • vroom
  • boom
  • grr
  • rip
  • wam
  • clack
  • hiss
  • slosh
  • woosh
  • clank
  • hmm
  • smack
  • yap
  • crash
  • meow
  • splash
  • yip
  • creak
  • moo
  • tap
  • zip
  • drip
  • neigh
  • tick
  • fizz
  • pop
  • tock

Revising to use onomatopoeias requires you to consider where using them would be the most useful. Consider how much focus you want on the sound something makes or the pause between ideas that an interjection of sound can make. You can change a poem to include many, a few, or no onomatopoeias depending on the focus or pausing you want to have. You can also change the onomatopoeias used to create imagery. For example, "vroom. The car stopped suddenly." can be revised to "vroom. screech. The car stopped."  to add more sound for the readers to imagine. 

Editing issues that may occur with onomatopoeias mostly involve spelling. Most sounds are very common and so have a specific spelling that is used like "bark" which is always spelled b-a-r-k. However, some authors can be creative with the spelling they use for sounds, especially less common sounds, like "kaaa-Boom" which is similar to the usual "kaboom" sound for an explosion, but shows a longer build-up and a bigger explosion through the multiple a's and capital B. If you do change the spelling of an onomatopoeia it will likely be with the vowels and should be done purposefully. 

Exercise 1.32

Match the noun to its sound. Write the letter of the sound on the line next to the noun it matches. Write the sound it makes in your native language on the line afterward. 




Sound in Your Native Language

1. ___ Cat


a. Slam


2. ___ A door closing


b. Meow


3. ___ A car driving quickly


c. Thump    


4. ___ A heavy book falling on the floor


d. Vroom


Exercise 1.33

Read "The Old Pond" again. Annotate the poem to understand how the author uses onomatopoeias in his writing. You can print this page as a pdf or write the poem on a piece of paper to do this exercise.

1. Circle the onomatopoeia.

2. How does this word divide the poem into two ideas?


4. Underline the first idea.

5. Put a dotted line under the second idea.

6. How would you describe this poem to a friend?


The Old Pond

by Matsuo Basho

An old silent pond

A frog jumps into the pond--

Splash! Silence again.

7. Write your own poem using the format below

 Action 1: 


More about action 1: 




Action 2: 


Exercise 1.34

Revise the following sentences to include more onomatopoeias. Write the improved versions of the sentences.

1. The machine clanked. 


2. The door opened. 


3. I ate potato chips. 


Revise the following sentences to include fewer onomatopoeias. 

4. Croak. Chirp. Screech. The lake was so peaceful. 


5. The mouse squeaked and bolted into the wall. 


6. The fire crackled, fizzed, chortled, popped, and sizzled while I cooked. 


Exercise 1.35

1. Edit the poem below to use common spellings for the underlined onomatopoeias. Rewrite the final version of the poem on a piece of paper. 

A Loud Zoo

The king of the jungle rooooared

calling to his subjects. 

The elephants trumpe-pe-pe-ted

The gorillas GRunted

The monkeys chaaatered

They followed the gorillas in all respects. 

The eagle kried

Even the ducks Quacked

2. Edit the poem below to use your own original spellings for the onomatopoeias. Rewrite the final version of the poem on a piece of paper. 


Stomp, stomp, stomp. 

Creak, crinkle, shuffle. 

The ingredients are laid out. 

pour, woosh, shush.

crack, plop, stir. 

The ingredients are mixed.

Click, buzz, clatter. 

 whirr, sizzle, ding. 

The cookies are done. 

Chomp, snap, gobble.

Crunch, munch, chew. 

The cookies are eaten. 


Personification is giving non-human or inanimate things human or animate characteristics. To think of ideas for personifying an inanimate object, you will need to consider the situation the object is in in the sentence and think of what an animate person would think, feel, or do in that situation. That is the animate attribute. Then you will need to think of how to show that the inanimate thing has that animate attribute. Much of the prewriting step for personification will focus on how to show the animate attribute (human-like characteristic). See the example of prewriting below.  


Inanimate ThingAnimate AttributeThings or Actions That Show That Attribute
abandoned bicyclesadness tears, crying, frowning, regret, sad
The bicycle cried when it was abandoned in the field. 

You can use personification by including personifying verbs such as "The rock smiled.", adjectives such as "The ocean was sad.", adverbs such as "The river cruelly moved on.", or even nouns such as "The tree stretched its fingers.". The last example uses verbs and nouns to give an inanimate thing with animate attributes. You may use multiple parts of speech to personify something. 

You can revise your writing to include personification to make the reader sympathize or feel closer to the thing you personify. To decide where to include personification, consider what things or ideas in the poem you want the reader to feel close to. You may need to revise the personification sentence(s) to make the attribute you are trying to give the inanimate thing clearer. For example, "The tree moved its fingers." is a little general, and even with the word "fingers", it is not as clear about the animate attribute or human-like characteristic being shown. Therefore, "The tree stretched its fingers." is a better revision because the animate attribute is clearer. 

 Because personification can be used in many different ways, when editing writing with personification you should edit for general English errors. These may be subject-verb agreement, missing determiners, incorrect punctuation, plurality errors, spelling errors, etc. General editing is needed for editing personification.  

Exercise 1.36

After each non-human noun, write three verbs usually used for human actions. Choose verbs that are done by humans, but not done by inanimate things.

For example, for "Tree", you could write dance, chuckle, hide. However, you couldn't write grow. Even though humans grow, trees normally also grow. To use these human verbs as a literary device (special technique) they need to be used in a different way than they normally are. Write three human verbs for each noun.

Example:    Tree   dance, chuckle, hide  

1. flower 


2. rain


3. cell phone


4. door


5. pen


6. train


7. stove


8. wave


Exercise 1.37

Part A

In the poem "Fog", the fog did things that would normally be considered human actions or the actions of a living thing. What other actions could fog do? Write 3 possible human verbs that the fog could do.

  1. ______________________
  2. ______________________
  3. ______________________

Part B

Choose one of these verbs to make a new stanza (paragraph of a poem) for "Fog". 


 by Carl Sandburg

 adapted by (your name)_____________

   The fog comes
   on little cat feet.
   It sits looking
   over harbor and city
   on silent haunches
   and then moves on.

Exercise 1.38

Revise sentences below to better through personification. Personify the underlined noun. 

Example:  The supermarket was large enough to get lost in. → The supermarket swallowed the shoppers whole. 

1. The engineers knew something was wrong. They knew because of math


2. It was suddenly midnight


3. The trophy was a symbol of victory to everyone who saw it. 


4. The cookie fell on the floor. 


5. There was a strong wind. My hat was blown down the street. 


6. The exam was difficult for the students. 


Exercise 1.39

Edit the sentences with personification below. Write the improved version of the sentences on the lines. 

1.   The willow leaned down to listn to the stream. 

      The waves jump up to tell the willow its drem.



2. The potato were surpris to become chips. 

    The milk was happy to become icecream. 



3. The oven steal my diner. 

    it burnt it and so was the winner. 



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