Literary Device Resurrection

Buffy_the_Vampire_Slayer_by_uberwekknessIt’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

The Copious Configurations of the Future Tense

headless_horseman_by_adamguzowski-d30oq2oWelcome, dear readers, to the fourth and final installment of my posts about verb tenses. I know I’ve been slacking off lately, but things have been a bit hectic, what with setting up Grammar Ghoul Press and dealing with a variety of other real world commitments. Continue reading

Literary Devices Revisited


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.


Image credit:  jérôme caffin /

Trifextra: Vampirella


On a dying planet, starving and hopeless, I drank from the humans’ cup and felt my strength return.

Across the universe now, I atone for my sins. Hunting my kind. Protecting the lifeblood.


This is my submission for this weekend’s Trifextra challenge. We had to write exactly
33 words about the origins of a superhero.


Image credit: Back to the Past

2012 in a Vocabulary Nutshell

In a Nutshell2012 has been an interesting year. I’ve worked with a diverse bunch of clients, discovered some wonderful writers and rekindled my passion for creative writing.

I thought it would be fun to sum up the year with a list of my 10 favourite words from 2012. These words either appeared in manuscripts I worked on, something I wrote or something I read that struck a chord.

1. Rhizome (noun): an underground rootlike stem bearing both roots and shoots.

  • Betty held the thick, twisted ginger rhizome out in front of her; unbeknownst to Betty, vampires don’t have a problem with ginger.

2.  Delinquent (noun): an offender (juvenile delinquent).

  • Generally speaking, there isn’t much difference between an adolescent werewolf and a juvenile delinquent.

3. Optimism (noun): a tendency to take a favourable view of circumstances or prospects; confidence.

  • Despite the oozing red bite on her arm Sally was confident she wouldn’t become a zombie. Her optimism was boundless.

4. Idle (adjective): (of a person) not working, doing nothing.

  • When Stephen saw the undead horde spill across his lawn, he too was idle no more.

5. Thanadoula (noun): A person who provides end of life care to people who are dying. Combination of the Greek words thana (death) and doula (servant).

  • Having been undead for several years, Amelia decided to pursue a career as a thanadoula. Assisting the dying was something she had a knack for.

6.  Logistics (plural noun): the detailed organization and implementation of a plan or operation.

  • In order to survive a zombie apocalypse, it is essential that your logistics are foolproof.

7.  Catalyst (noun): a person or thing that precipitates a change.

  • When Alastair saw the vampire emerge from the shadows, he knew her fangs were a catalyst for his life.

8.  Gruelling (adjective): extremely demanding, severe, or tiring.

  • Decapitating vampires and zombies was gruelling work; Sam had definitely earned his cold beer.

9.  Resolve (noun): resoluteness; steadfastness.

  • Watching the adolescent werewolves pee on her petunias strengthened Cecily’s resolve. She had to get rid of them, so she reached for her box of silver bullets.

10. Erstwhile (adjective): former; previous.

  • As an erstwhile human, Harold was surprised by how much he wanted to eat one.

Note: All definitions, except thanadoula, come from the Second Edition of the Oxford Canadian Dictionary (2006).

Do you have a favourite word that sums up 2012 for you? Please feel free to share if you do.


Image credit: © Comugnero Silvana /