It’s been quite a while since we last talked about literary devices, so I thought it would be fun to tell you about a few more of the lesser-known devices. As you read their definitions and examples, you might discover a device that you use in your own writing that you never knew had a name. For me, that’s the first device we’re going to look at. Continue reading
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.
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.
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)
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.
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.
She walks toward him, petrified. Puts one foot before the other like a mantra.
Abdominal butterflies flutter.
He meets her gaze. Her heart thumps, catching in her throat as he smiles.
This is my submission for this weekend’s Trifextra challenge. We had to write exactly
33 words, including at least one example of onomatopoeia. (To refresh your memory about onomatopoeia, check out my post on Literary Devices.)
Image credit: Google Images
Today, dear readers, I’d like to talk about literary devices, which my Oxford dictionary defines as “any literary technique deliberately employed to achieve a specific effect.” Literary devices are writing techniques that are standardized, which simply means each device has a consistent set of rules regarding what it is and how to use it.
There are lots of literary devices out there. I’m not kidding. Check out one of the resources at the bottom of this article to see for yourself. So I’ve chosen a handful of the more common ones, along with a couple of uncommon ones, to review. If you still aren’t sure what a literary device actually is, chances are you will recognize some of the following examples from your days in English class.
This literary device refers to the practice of deliberately leaving out conjunctions in a sentence. Asyndeton is used to create an impact, conveying the author’s message in a strong, succinct manner. Here are some examples:
- Eat, prey, devour.
- Come, see, conquer.
- Catch, probe, release.
The device hyperbole is when an author employs exaggeration to emphasize a point or an emotion. The effect is often comical or dramatic. For example:
- I am so hungry I could eat a hippopotamus.
- Igor, I’ve told you a million times not to electrocute strangers.
- If you don’t return my love I will surely die of heartache.
This is one of the most commonly used devices. It is when we take one thing (usually an identity or a concept) and compare it to another. The purpose of metaphor is to make our meaning clear by using an identity or concept that is well known to describe something lesser known. Here are some examples:
- That basilisk eats like a pig.
- Her anger was like a towering inferno.
- Evil oozed from him like pus from an infected wound.
This is one of my favourite literary devices — and not just because it has such a great name! When we use onomatopoeia, it refers to words that sound like the actual sound they represent. Obviously, onomatopoeia shows up frequently in comic books and graphic novels. Here are a few examples:
- The horseman’s head landed in the water with a splash.
- The enormous spider’s legs clicked across the floor.
- Outside, a dragon screeched.
When we use personification, it refers to the practice of combining human emotions and characteristics with inanimate objects. Here are some examples:
- The walls of the castle loomed sinisterly above him.
- A gentle breeze whispered in her ear.
- The chair grumbled under the monster’s weight.
The device syllepsis is when one word acts on two or more other words in a sentence. It is often used to create a comical, witty effect, as seen in the following examples:
- As Mr. Hyde took over, Dr, Jekyll lost his control and his girlfriend.
- The charming vampire took away my breath and then my life.
- Sheila was so angry she wanted to break his heart and his legs.
Now that you’ve seen some examples, you probably recognize some literary devices that you use regularly. Who knew they had a name? Well, now you do. Literary devices can be a great way to spice up your writing or express yourself verbally. They are another example of just how symbolic our language actually is.
If you want to learn about more literary devices, check out the following links:
- Literary Devices
- Saskatoon Online Learning Centre
- English Learning Hub
- Glossary of Literary Terms
- Wikipedia — Literary Techniques
Tempest in a Teapot
The kettle screams and I know my time is almost up. Not even the soothing caress of cool ceramic assuages my anxiety.
A rage of boiling water crashes over me. Alone, I steep.
This is my submission for this weekend’s Trifecta writing challenge, which just happens to merge two of my favourite things: creative writing and literary devices! Here’s the challenge:
This weekend, we’re sending you back to English 101 to revisit the concept of literary devices. We want you to give us a 33-word example of personification. Wait. What? You forget what that is? It’s the practice of attaching human traits and characteristics with inanimate objects, phenomena and animals (http://literary-devices.com). It’s when the wind howls, the car door grunts, and the front porch shrugs its shoulders under the weight of its own history.