Personification Examples For Authors: Grow In 3 Steps

BY Sarah Rexford | May 02, 2023 | Fiction, Learning, Writing

Some of your favorite writing likely employs what we call personification. But what are personification examples for authors? Those on the other side of the screen? How do you know when you use this tactic well versus when you should exclude it from the scene?

In this article, I provide personification examples for authors so that you can take your writing to a whole new level. Personification is a great writing tool and can be used to add dynamics to a scene that otherwise would simply not exist. 

Like most writing rules, personification should be used with discretion. Everything in moderation, right? So first, let’s start with some examples, then dive into the definition, and lastly, end with a step by step guide. 

Personification Examples For Authors

Below is a list of personification examples for authors that you may or may not easily pick up on. However, it’s important to provide you a few examples prior to a definition so you can pick up on a few areas: How easily it can blend in, how it helps the setting come alive, and how it’s been done.

#1 – The Giving Tree, Shel Silverstein

“Once there was a tree

And she loved little boy.

And every day the boy would come

And he would gather her leaves

And make them into crowns and play king of the forest.

[…] And the boy loved the tree very much.

And the tree was happy.

But time went by,

And the boy grew older.

And the tree was often alone.”

#2 – A Separate Peace, John Knowles

“Peace had deserted Devon. Although not in the look of the campus and village; they retained much of their dreaming summer calm. Fall had barely touched the full splendor of the trees, and during the height of the day the sun briefly regained its summertime power. In the air there was only an edge of coolness to imply the coming winter. But all had been caught up, like the first fallen leaves, by a new and energetic wind.”

What Is Personification?

Grammarly defines personification as when you emphasize a non-human’s characteristics by describing them with human attributes.

Did you notice any of the personifications in the above two examples? Below are a few:

  • She loved little boy
  • The tree was happy
  • A new and energetic wind

Personification, when used in specific instances, can help make nouns (for instance, the tree), act like a human and come to life. 

Have you ever felt the grip of cold? The bite of wind? The caress of a warm, gentle wave on the shore? This is personification. 

When it comes to personification examples for authors specifically, consider this: Every writer and reader knows and understands the human experience personally. What better way to create a connection between the story and those reading it than to employ what we all connect with most—humanity? 

Examples From Different Genres

To help  get you thinking, it’s important to include personification examples for authors in various genres. Look through the sentences below and notice how personification adds to the genre itself: 

  • The poison snuck along the floor, crawling closer as it dripped from above.
  • The ring flirted with the sunlight, sending sparks of joy in every direction. 
  • This close to the city, oppression hung in the air. People walked with their hands over their mouths, as if attempting to keep the smog from gripping their lungs.

Whether you write horror, romance, or dystopia, personification acts as an aid in bringing your setting to life. It’s not just people who can sing, dance, mourn, laugh, sneak, and yell. 

Words can sing. Wind can dance. Rain can mourn. Waves can laugh. Vines can sneak. Thunder can yell. But out of the above personification examples for authors, how do you employ it in your own writing?

Step By Step Guide

Next up in our list of personification examples for authors is a step by step guide. Consider writing a short story, follow the below steps, and see how your story comes to life.

#1 – Focus On One Sense

To begin, choose what you want to come to life. Let’s say your setting is Antarctica, and your protagonist is a man with his dog sled attempting to scout the land. If you’ve ever watched Against The Ice, images likely fill your mind as you read this. 

However, try reading the book. Notice where Ejnar Mikkelsen uses personification, or could use it. Could the ice be a sleeping giant? Could the whip of the wind be a cruel villain? Focus on one aspect such as the following:

  • Touch
  • Taste
  • Smell
  • Hearing
  • Sight

Next, pair one of the senses with the setting. 

  • Touch of freezing water
  • Taste of falling snow
  • Smell of desolation 
  • Hearing the creak of ice
  • Seeing the blinding sun

Finally, add a touch of humanity.

  • The water had an icy grip.
  • Ice creaked, old joints trying to stand. 
  • The air smelled desolate, as if trying to camouflage itself from the explorers.

Alright, on to step two. 

#2 – Study Nonverbals

I’m still surprised how much studying communication in undergrad prepared me to be a writer. Nonverbal communication is the one type of communication we can never refuse. We can stop talking and resist “talking with our hands” but even these choices communicate nonverbally. 

Studying the art of nonverbal communication can greatly enhance your mastery of personification. 

  • People communicate 24/7, whether they realize it or not, which means…
  • Your characters are always communicating, which means…
  • You can always employ nonverbal personification 

Have fun playing around with it and see what you come up with!

#3 – Don’t Go Overboard 

With personification, less is often more. Consider the following two examples:

  • The icy water gripped his shoulders, forcing him under, wrapping around him in a stiff hug, and punching the breath from his lungs. 
  • Icy water punched the breath from his lungs.

Today’s writers are often encouraged to use less description and leave the rest up to the reader. Too much detail and you risk losing your readers as they try to visualize every detail, rather than fill in the blanks for themselves. 

Let Your Writing Leap Forward

Now that you have seen quite a few personification examples for authors, it’s time to dive into your own writing. To start out easy, try adding one element of personification to the below examples:

  • Rain splatted the pavement.
  • Sun filled the living room.
  • He heard thunder overhead.

How did you do? If it feels awkward at first, that means you’re learning what works and what doesn’t. Embrace the discomfort and keep trying! 

But now it’s time to get back to your work-in-progress. You learned how to use another writing rule and now it’s time to execute your newfound knowledge. Ask yourself the following questions as you get back to your manuscript:

  • Where could personification make my story come alive?
  • Where would personification distract from my story?
  • How can I ensure I use it just enough, and not too much?

Remember, all writing needs editing, so don’t worry about your first tries. Go all in. You can always edit out some of your personifications later, but the practice will be worth it. Enjoy the process!

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Sarah Rexford

Sarah Rexford is an SEO copywriter for companies from startups to multi-million dollar businesses. She writes for influencers around the nation, from CEOs to a New York Times bestselling author, and speaks at conferences with keynotes such as Charles Martin. A creative writer as well, Sarah helps writers clarify their dreams so they can work them into reality. For services or coaching, contact her via her website,
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