Thursday 16 April 2015

Literary Devices: Weave Them Into Your Writing

"The point isn't to memorize literary devices; the point is to become familiar with them, learn how to use them, practice using them and weave them into your writing, to make it brighter, more imaginative and filled with a richness that it won't get otherwise." (Leah McLellan)

Here is a list of literary techniques that you can incorporate into your writing whether it's fiction or non-fiction.

1.  alliteration:  a series of words which all begin with the same letter
ex. "Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers."  Books with alliteration include Dr. Seuss' ABC and Lilly's Purple Plastic Purse.

2.  assonance:  similar vowel sounds
ex. "Don't pander to a panhandler named Dan the Handiman."

3.  metonymy:  similar to a metaphor
ex. "He supported his family with his own sweat and blood."

4.  onomatopoeia:  the word imitates the sound
ex.  "The rain plip plopped against the window pane."  Books that focus on onomatopoeia are Going on a Bear Hunt and Mr. Brown can Moo Can You?

5.  oxymoron:  two words that have opposite meanings 
ex.  Great Depression; jumbo shrimp; deafening silence

6.  personification:  inanimate objects take on human characteristics
ex. "The stars danced playfully in the moonlit sky."  Books that focus on personification are The Day the Crayons Quit and Charlotte's Web.

7.  asyndeton:  omit conjunctions in a list
ex.  "Write, revise, edit, proofread, repeat; that's your job as a writer."

8.  hyperbole:  exaggeration for effect
ex.  "He could have knocked me over with a feather."

9.  allusion:  referring to an actual historical event
ex.  "The Cold War was back on when I told the kids we weren't going to the movies."  Books that focus on allusion are Animal Farm and Harry Potter.

10.  anaphora:  repetition of a word/phrase at the beginning of successive clauses 
ex.  "If you don't dream, if you don't plan, if you don't act, if you don't take a chance, you'll never get anywhere."

11.  procatalepsis:  anticipates reader rejection and addresses it
ex.  "You might think these literary devices are silly or not worth your time.  If you ask any experienced writer however, you'll soon learn how valuable they truly are." 

12.  epizeuxis:  repetition of a word for effect
ex.  "All he ever did was whine, whine, whine."

13.  irony:  say one thing and mean the opposite; expect one thing and the opposite happens
ex.  A traffic cop gets his licence suspended for unpaid parking tickets.  Books that focus on irony are Pride & Prejudice and The Help.

14.  foreshadowing:  a hint of what is to come later in the story
ex.  Charles Dickens uses stormy weather to foreshadow changes in Pip's life in Great Expectations.  Little Red Riding Hood has good examples of foreshadowing.

Note:  For more information, visit

No comments:

Post a Comment