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Literary Devices usage in creative writing

Master the art of writing essays and reading poetry with knowledge of literary devices. These word tools are used to create imagery for readers and listeners. They make narrative and descriptive works more engaging and enjoyable rather than the use of plain adjectives.

Literary devices can be literal or figurative

They can be used to give literal meaning or figurative meaning. Literary devices that give literal meaning are words that mean exactly what they state. They are easy to understand as long as the listener or reader knows the definitions of the intensifiers and adjectives used e.g. “very short” and “extremely generous”.

Figurative meaning is different from the one stated. They need some work to understand. The listener or reader must know both meanings in order to analyse them and understand what is being said. Several literary devices that give figurative meaning are similar to each other. They also have differences. Here is a guide that shows some types, uses, similarities and differences of commonly used literary devices.

Make comparisons with literary devices

SIMILE is the comparison between two things using “like” or “as”.

METAPHOR is the comparison between two things by saying one is the other.

ANALOGY is drawing a comparison between two situations that better explains one of them.

ALLUSION is making an indirect reference to an event or person.

PERSONIFICATION is when a speaker gives human characteristics to animals or things.

ANTHROPOMORPHISM is making animals or objects behave and look as if they are human beings.

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Make an indirect point

Irony is language used that is opposite which may be unintentional or deliberate. There are 3 types:

1. Situational Irony is a situation that reflects opposite.

2. Verbal Irony is words used that are opposite to what is meant.

3. Dramatic Irony occurs when viewers know things the characters do not know about the plot and other characters.

SARCASM is verbal irony used to insult. It is accompanied by a bitter or condescending tone and an annoyed facial expression.

RHETORICAL QUESTION is a question that does not need an answer. It is situational irony also used to be sarcastic.

Create suspense

CONTRADICTION is a statement that is opposite to one already made that makes no sense.

PARADOX is a contradictory statement that is true and makes sense.

JUXTAPOSITION is when two things with contrasting effects are placed close to each other.

OXYMORON is when two contradictory words appear close to each other but one word has two meanings.

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Create comic effect

PUN is a joke that plays on the multiple meanings of a word, or on two words that sound the same.

PARODY is when one piece of work imitates another piece of work by means of humorous, satiric or ironic imitation.

SATIRE is the use of exaggeration, humour, and irony to criticise a person or society. 

MOCKERY is an absurd misrepresentation or imitation of something to insult while Satire aims to make people laugh.

Emphasise a point

REPETITION is the repeating of words or phrases often used to emphasise an idea.

HYPERBOLE is the use of exaggeration.

REDUNDANCY is when meaning is duplicated unnecessarily. It must be avoided.

Appeal to the auditory sense

ONOMATOPOEIA is representing sounds with words.

RHYME is the repetition of final sounds in words.

ALLITERATION is the repetition of consonant sounds.

ASSONANCE is the repetition of vowel sounds.

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Express an idea using common sayings

IDIOM is a phrase used to make readers think about an idea.

CLICHE is a worn-out phrase used in everyday expressions.

PROVERB is a common phrase that offers advice or states a general truth.

Create setting with literary devices

FLASHBACK creates setting back in time.

FLASH FORWARD creates setting in the future.

FORESHADOW gives a hint about something to happen in the future.

See also:

5 senses and creating imagery with words

Mom in school – adult literacy support

Report writing lesson for security guard

SEA exam: 5 tips for stressed-out parents

CXC/CSEC exam tips for students ready or not

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