Literary Devices Revisited

Clown

Today, I thought it would be fun to talk about some of the literary devices that didn’t make the first cut. To refresh your memory, a literary device is a standardized writing technique, used to achieve a particular effect.

Allegory
The device of allegory is used to describe an abstract concept in a way that is more concrete and relatable. It is sometimes described as an extended metaphor, as it often takes a narrative form and is commonly used in literature. Here is an example of an allegory:

  • A bad relationship is like putting out the garbage. If you take it to the curb on time, you won’t even remember it was there, but if you don’t, eventually your whole house will smell.

Kennings
This is a neat little literary device that comes to us from Old English and Viking writing. Beowulf is full of them. Kennings use a mixture of imagery, usually in the form of a compound modifier, to describe something in a creative, often enigmatic way. Here are some modern examples:

  • Tramp-stamp (tattoo)
  • Ankle-biters (small children)
  • Information highway (Internet)

Malapropism
This device refers to the deliberate misuse of a word in order to create confusion and amusement. Typically the word that is used as a substitute sounds very similar to the word that should have been used, so the reader will catch what was intended. Here’s an example:

  • Oscar was so proud of himself for overcoming his stigmata against clowns.

Verisimilitude
Okay, so this literary device definitely has one of the best names, but it’s also a pretty cool device. We use verisimilitude to lend truth and accuracy to our writing. It is what makes a story believable; what allows readers to suspend their disbelief. Here’s an example:

  • When Buffy drove the stake through the vampire’s heart, the vampire crumbled to dust.

Even though a vampire is a mythical creature, the example above has verisimilitude because it adheres to generally accepted ideas about vampires. If the vampire broke into dance instead of crumbling to dust, it probably wouldn’t have verisimilitude.

And there you have it. Four more literary devices to add to your roster.

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Image credit:  jérôme caffin / PhotoXpress.com

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6 thoughts on “Literary Devices Revisited

    1. Ooh, now there’s a good idea! A booklet of literary devices…

      I’m glad you like the idea of a kennings contest. I think it would be fun to see what people come up with. 🙂

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