Anthropomorphize That!

Anthropomorphism. A mouthful of a word. It is the act of applying or imposing human form, behavior or emotions onto an animal or inanimate object.

In science the behavioral study of animals is strictly reduced to action and not attribution of emotion or feelings are permitted.

“The chickadee flew from branch to branch.”
“The male chickadee moved to the right of the female chickadee and touched sides.”

As writers we easily add emotion to animals etc. Because it’s what we do naturally.

“The chickadee flew excitedly from branch to branch.”
“The male chickadee snuggled up to the female lovingly.”

This tool is often found/used in children’s stories, science fiction, space operas etc. Stories like Lord of the rings or Winnie the Pooh. Where animals are given the ability to talk, walk, behave like the human champions we want them to be.

Examples of physical Anthropomorphism

The man in the moon
Cats, dogs, cows etc. that walk on two legs or use paws/hooves etc like hands.
Changing the face of an animal to be more human.
Giving appliances or plants faces. (Brave little toaster, Alice in wonderland, Beauty and the Beast)

Examples of Emotional Anthropomorphism

Suggesting expressions of any emotion from an animal or object. “The cat looked up at me with love.” or “The dog’s big eyes looked sad.”
The cat sat impatiently waiting for it’s dinner
The snake watched wearily as I approached. It looked angry and ready to strike.

Examples of Behavioral Anthropomorphism.

Any animal, insect or object that speaks a human language.
Having an animal pick up an object such as a fork or use a pencil.
Have an animal Drive car or spend money
Implying human behavior in animals: The bird looked thoughtfully at the cage door.
Having a flying broom do something funny that would require a sense of humor or thought.

Anthropomorphism is the reason we teach animals tricks. The added belief they are more like us makes us as humans happy. It is also why we fear things that are less like us. Things with more legs or eyes like insects and spiders. Things with fewer legs like snakes and sharks. Anything that we can’t associate a physical similarity to or a behavioral similarity. There will always be exceptions to this as with anything. However in general humans like human-like things.

I don’t have any animals in my stories as of yet nor objects that I apply human characteristics to. I have however read many that do. Whether it’s on purpose or by accident. From childrens stories right up to stories for adults.

This isn’t to say that you should or should not anthropomorphize animals or objects, just to be aware when you do it. If its purposeful like a giant talking spider or a car that flies and has attitude or a tree that doesn’t like trespassers, then by all means make it a character and more humanized.  However saying “The cellphone rang happily” instead of “The cellphone rang a happy tune”, makes a bit of difference to a more serious story.

My advice about Anthropomorphism. 
Unless you’re going for it specifically; be careful the sentence doesn’t become silly.  


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Holy Hyper Hyperboles

I love learning and writing. There is one aspect of writing that is more fun than a barrel full of monkeys. Using Hyperbole.

Hyperbole is to make a point using extreme exaggeration. It’s also a fun word to say.


If I were writing non-fiction I wouldn’t be using hyperbole. They are generally used in fiction and media. They can add humor and character to a story. However, as with all good things, moderation is key.

Like metaphors and simile’s, hyperboles are comparisons, however, they are ostentatious in nature even ridiculous. It’s not recommended to take them literally or one might find the scenario quite hilarious.

Using hyperboles in literature shows contrasts. One thing is described with an over-statement and the other is presented normally. This is a catchy technique used to keep the reader reading.  For example, “He’s as skinny as a toothpick.” The overstatement is the toothpick and the normal is him being skinny. “He is skinny.” Works just fine, but it’s more entertaining to add “as a toothpick.”

Bringing a boring section of the story to life with a hyperbole is fun.

Here are some examples

I’ve said it a thousand times.

I’m so hungry I could eat a cow.

I have a bazillion things to get done.

I have a ton of work to finish.

His breath was so bad it knocked me over.

I think those make it clear.

So how about an example? Okay since you insist.

Amber stood before the full-length mirror naked. She poked at her still flat tummy and pouted. “I’m going to get as fat as a whale.”

Dale looked her over from head to toe. “What do you mean going to?”

She laughed, grabbed a purple pillow and threw it at his head. “Jerk.”

“You could put some meat on, you’re nothing but skin and bones.” He tossed the pillow back.

“I swear Dale you’re dumb as a stump sometimes.” She squealed as he grabbed her by the waist and tickled her ribs. “Stop, stop I give in.” She laughed and fell back on the bed pulling him with her. “I’m glad you’re not boring and tease me.”

Dale leered at her breasts. “Oh, I’ll tease you all right.” His wicked grin made her try to get away unsuccessfully.

I probably wouldn’t put that much into one conversation, but that was kinda fun. I know I use hyperboles regularly. Not so often, it’s annoying but there are times when a character is flustered or excited and spouts one out. I don’t know if I use them in narrative… I might have to check that.

My advice about Hyperboles.
Why not use one to spice up a statement so boring it put the entire world to sleep.


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