D is for Devices, as in Literary Devices

First off, I apologize if I didn’t get to a lot of your blogs yesterday. My Internet was verrrrry spotty, something to do with my Wi-Fi router going bonkers, but as I’m not tech-savvy it was rather like wrestling a gorilla for a measly banana. Not worth it. So I gave up and did productive things instead, like buying groceries (lots of bananas!) and cleaning the house. Someone’s got to do it, right?

Anyway, (I’m totally jumping in without transitions here) how well-versed are you in literary devices? Do you even know what they are? Here’s a quick rundown to refresh your college-day memories.

  • ALLEGORY: A visible symbol representing an abstract idea. It’s also generally an extension of a metaphor. For instance, the grim reaper is a symbol of death, and everyone knows it. So if you have this:
From Wikimedia Commons

           You immediately know and understand that the skeleton with the scythe is really death coming for the man in the picture. (And not just a zombified skeleton who looks like he’s asking the man for a dance, or telling him to cut the super long grass in his backyard. Er…)

  • ALLITERATION: The use of the same consonant at the beginning of each stressed syllable in a line of verse.

          E.g. Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers.

  • ALLUSION: Passing reference or indirect mention; Also, a reference to a famous person or even in life or literature.
  • ANALOGY: Drawing a comparison in order to show a similarity in some respect.
  • ASSONANCE: The repetition of similar vowels in the stressed syllables of successive words. Mostly used in verse, not prose.

         E.g. the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain (Edgar Allan Poe, “The Raven”)

  • CLIMAX: The decisive moment in a novel or play; it represents the point of greatest tension in the work.
  • FORESHADOWING: The act of providing vague advance indications; hints of what is to come in an action of a play or story.
  • HYPERBOLE: Extravagant exaggeration.

          My kids are experts when it comes to hyperboles:
          When told to clean up his toys: “Mom! It’s gonna take me forever and ever!”
          When told to pick up her backpack from the floor: “It’s so heavy, my arm’s gonna fall off!”
          When they’re eager to go outside and play, but Mom says to wait for her: “Mom, you’re taking bajillion years!”

  • METAPHOR: A figure of speech in which an expression is used to refer to something that it does not literally denote in order to suggest a similarity.
  • ONOMATOPEIA: Using words that imitate the sound they denote.

          Ah, I love this! I like words that sound exactly what they’d sound like in real life. For instance, CRUNCH. You can hear it, can’t you? Or how about ZIP when you’re pulling on the zipper. ZIIIIIIP!

  • OXYMORON: Conjoining contradictory terms. Another excellent example of how we can play with our words!

        E.g. jumbo shrimp
               clearly confused
               constant variable
               defeaning silence
               act naturally

  • PERSONIFICATION: The act of attributing human characteristics to abstract ideas, etc.
  • PUN: A humorous play on words.
  • SIMILE: A figure of speech that expresses a resemblance between things of different kinds (usually formed with “like” or “as”).

Okay, class dismissed!


    15 thoughts on “D is for Devices, as in Literary Devices

    1. These are great reminders of things all writers should use in their "toolbox."I'm gonna show this post to my 11 year old daughter as she is in AP English and last night she had to use literary devices in an assignment. Great post!

    2. Thank you for this post! This was such a great list πŸ™‚ I'm not a fan of alliteration, I don't know why, but even if I use it accidently in a normal sentence, it kind of makes me shudder! Weird thing I have πŸ™‚ I didn't know what Hyperbole meant but that is such a cool word!Nikki – inspire nordic

    3. Loved the hyperbole examples, too cute. This was a great refresher course for me, I admit I was totally blank on a few of them. I think I am going to save this list.Also had to laugh as it really does look like the Grim Reaper is asking that man for a dance in that pic LOL.

    4. I like post like this also. I can always use a refresher course in the writing. I learn best by example so thanks for the helpful and demonstrative examples.

    5. Check. Check. Check.I feel very smart. I knew them all! (which is probably because I just took a literature CLEP…)Thanks for stopping by (and following) my blog! :)- Lauren @Word Art

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