Episode #9 – “Ava’s Man” by Rick Bragg

How well do you write similes? On this third Thursday, I share a recommended memoir and what you can learn from it.

The writer is a Pulitzer-prize-winning author, university instructor, and investigative reporter named Rick Bragg from Northeast Alabama. Honestly, I encourage life story writers to read any memoir by him.

Today’s book, Ava’s Man, is about Bragg’s grandfather, Charlie Bundrum, a longtime maker of moonshine.

Bragg does so many things well—dialogue, characters, humor, setting—but today, we focus on his masterful, non-cliche use of the simile. A simile is one way to compare dissimilar objects and create images in the reader’s mind using the words like or as. It may seem like similes roll right out of Bragg’s pen, but I think he really works at creating fresh ones.

After you watch the vlog, study these examples of similes from Ava’s Man. Pick one or two and change the ending to create a new simile. Then, share your work in the comments section below.

Here are a few of my favorite similes from Ava’s Man:

Page 46 – “went out soft and quiet, like a cat leaving a room”
Page 87 – “like putting bootheels to a man already down”
Page 96 – “face like a pickax”
Page 105 – “her eyes like two drill bits”
Page 135 – “standing over his shoulder, looking down on him like a conscience.”
Page 234, “Fred, built like a refrigerator with a hat, could boom from the pulpit and send sin scrambling like a spider for a dark hole.”

Remember, the only way to do this wrong is to not do it at all.

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Happy writing!

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Julie Folkerts
Julie Folkerts
1 year ago

Went out soft and quiet like a mother putting her baby to bed.
Fred, built like a Mac truck, could make the pulpit move and scare the evil right out of you.
Her eyes like a grizzly watching its prey.
Face like a bulldog, struggling to breathe.

Nancy Archibald
1 year ago

Went out soft and quiet like a leaf falling from a tree.
Standing over his shoulder, looking down on him like a dark shadow.
Fred, built like a snowman, could boom from a pulpit and send sin scrambling like fairy dust.
Fred, built like a snowman, could boom from a pulpit and melt the sin away.
Her eyes like a black panther hunting prey at night.
Like using a frying pan on a man already down.
Face like a hawk’s beak.
Face like a hawk.

Linda Peterson
1 year ago

Face like q craggy mountain. Fred, built like a barn with a hat, could roar like a lion from the pulpit,
sending sin on the run like a convict from the cops.

Kit Dwyer
1 year ago

Eyes like two laser rays.

Etya Krichmar
1 year ago

I remember him from previous lesson. His stimulus are great! went out soft and quiet, like a feather falling down.

Etya Krichmar
1 year ago
Reply to  Patricia


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