Some of my prompts have titles; this one is “Similes and Metaphors.”
First, I ask everyone to make a list down the left-hand margin of five nouns and five verbs ending in “ing.” This is a free write, so I remind them to just write whatever words pop into their heads.
Then I have them write “is like” next to each of those words, setting up the foundation for a simile.
Next, I have them finish the phrase using whatever words come to mind, or borrowing from other words on their lists. So we get phrases like, “Coffee tables are like friendships,” and “Kisses are like promises,” or Flying is like freedom.”
We each choose one of these and read them around to hear the variations.
Next, we cross out the phrase “is like” and create a metaphor. Now we have, “Coffee tables are friendships,” and “Kisses are promises.” Very different indeed.
As with all of my list exercises, I have everyone choose three that they’d feel comfortable reading out loud, and we read them around, leaving enough time between each reader to write down any we find inspiring or interesting in any way.
Finally, we choose one, write it at the top of a blank page, and begin writing, using the metaphor as a prompt, repeating it if and when we feel stuck. We write for twenty minutes.
My metaphor was, “Kissing is Flying” Here’s what I wrote:
Kissing is Flying
a mouth open as wide as the sky
a whole cloud of birds between two wet lips
the world opening up beneath you:
fields covered in the shadows of clouds,
trees reaching roots into river beds
the breath coming quickly as you travel under bridges,
over buildings, sloping down, down, down, then soaring
up, up, up into the horizon, through a passage of towering
rock formations, rushing over great bodies of water,
suspended in bright air, the sun rising out of the ocean
past a flock of gulls, blindingly white,
the sun reflecting off their wings,
or a murder of Crows, darkening the sky.
For a moment, for a moment
for a fantastic moment you transcend
this body: bone, flesh, muscle, tail spread out
behind you, you take flight, and there is only this
only this, no gravity, no sorrow nothing to hold you
down, so just for a moment
you rise and rise and rise