Category Archives: Literary devices

Exercises and explanations for using common literary devices

The foundation of world building

As a child, the stories that fascinated me the most were set in other lands. As an adult, reading passages that describe an unknown world still intrigues me. Simply throwing me into a story without a describing the setting leaves … Continue reading

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The art of world building

I wanted to vacation on the banks of the San Antonio River as it meandered through the center of town. The river that had once created messy floods was now encased by sidewalk with a sprinkling of shaggy bald cypress … Continue reading

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Writing the right-hand man (or woman)

Most protagonists are not complete loners. Interactions with a sidekick, best buddy or groups of friends typically make up a good portion of the story. Creating the peers of the main character may actually take more thought than creating the main character. … Continue reading

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Literary devices and charisma

“Edwin Escobar Luz” by Herbert Rouge – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons – Most people determine a leader’s charisma using nonverbal characteristics, such as conveying emotional states, demonstrating passions through gestures and compelling use of … Continue reading

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When characters collide

Consider the possible basic conflicts in fiction:  man against environment, man against man, man against society, and man against self.  In most plots the conflicts are between people.  Even in Robinson Caruso and Castaway, tales of man surviving in isolation, … Continue reading

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What makes a character, a character?

Recently I was following a thread of writers discussing how to find names that make characters memorable.  Honestly I believe that writers should be looking at the reverse situation.  It is the skillful creation of a character whose strengths and … Continue reading

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Physiological writing

What exactly are physiological reactions? Imagine you are a young teenage girl. You are waiting in the math hall, and that handsome senior with an air of indifferent confidence strolls past you on the way to calculus. Normally you are … Continue reading

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Unknown, unnerving

While watching a military movie, that was unexpectedly full of death in gory detail (i.e. multiple flying body parts) my mind decided I had seen enough gruesomeness I started laughing. Unable to squelch the giggles, I told my husband that I … Continue reading

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Allusions and airs

Allusions are the literary equivalent of name-dropping. Imagine you are discussing the current government shut-down with a friend. You mention a insight you learned about behind-the-scenes working of government in our capitol, and briefly mention that when George Bush explained … Continue reading

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Figures of seeing

Reading ancient literature is difficult not just because of archaic words, but also ambiguous figures of speech that attempted to help the reader see the image and not just hear the words. Translate an early English text, such as Beowulf … Continue reading

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