Figurative Language

Figurative language is any language used in writing that doesn’t follow the “conventional order” of things. It often involves comparisons and can draw more vivid imagery to your mind than a sentence merely stating the facts. Oftentimes, figurative language has implicit meanings behind it that are meant to be uncovered by the reader, making the experience of a book that much deeper and profound. It is also typically more eye catching than purely indicative sentences, and thus draws a larger audience to an author’s work.

There are various types of figurative language, but the ones I’ll explain today are: similes, metaphors, personification, and hyperbole.

A simile is any sentence that uses “like” or “as” to compare two unlike things. For example, “The ballet dancers glided across the stage like swans on a lake.” This is a simile. Dancers and swans are two completely different things. One is human, can reason through decisions, and looks very different from a bird. The other is a type of waterfowl, reacts based on instinct, and has wings and tailfeathers. In all respects, they are completely different, yet I drew a similarity between them: the act of gliding. This is the power of figurative language, to bring ideas into a new light whilst also revealing a bit of your own character and thought.

A metaphor states one subject IS another. It is a comparison between the two subjects but without the words “like” or “as”. One example is, “Children are beasts when exhausted, unfed, or in need of anything which cannot immediately be given to them.” Now, children aren’t actually beasts (Well, it could be debatable, but that’s another topic of conversation. Just kidding, just kidding.), but there is an evident comparison between the two. The only difference between this and a simile is that metaphors say something IS something else, while similes only say they RESEMBLE something else.

Personification applies human attributes to a nonhuman thing. “The alarm clock yelled at me to get up.” “The notice on the bulletin board stared at me as if to say I mustn’t ignore it any longer.” “The donuts through the bakery window beckoned for me to buy it.” None of those inanimate objects can complete the actions I described of them, but you can understand how they figuratively do accomplish such things.

Hyperbole, simply put, is an exaggeration. It’s often used to highlight a specific point the writer wants to make or out of sheer hilarity. The key with hyperbole is to make the exaggeration outrageously unbelievable so it won’t be misconstrued for truth. As a reference, “I’ve told you a billion times to wipe your shoes off before you enter the house, son!” or “I’ll slap you into next week if you ever scare me like that again!” Obviously, though it may sometimes feel like it to parents, they haven’t told their children to clean their shoes a billion times. Further, no one can physically knock someone through time, no matter how hard they hit. So, these are exaggerations, but they spotlight certain points and add comic relief to stories.

In conclusion, figurative language is a great thing to include in all fiction writing. It adds depth, meaning, and enjoyment to both a reader’s and writer’s experience of a work, thus benefiting all.


Published by aspiringwriter111

Heyyyyy, random person reading my bio! There's a TON to know about me, but I think I'll keep it pretty simple. Basically, I'm an aspiring writer who somehow manages to make time in her already hectic life for creating new, fantastical worlds on a daily basis. I love dreaming up romances, adventures, and crazy new species of animals to include in my books. Fights with dragons, damsels in distress, and pirates are right up my alley, but I also enjoy writing of the sometimes torturous struggles of everyday life, like... doing chores!! *sigh* XD And remember: "Everything you can imagine is real." -Picasso

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