Category Archives: Literary devices

Exercises and explanations for using common literary devices

Uncontrollable Characters

Some authors claim that characters live in the their head, sometimes ignore their directives and even argue with what the author has planned for them to do. The difficulty with capturing real characters is the finite number of words in … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Creativity, Literary devices, Literature, Trends in books, Writer's resource | Leave a comment

Twisted Wit

During my lifetime I have noticed a shift in the focus of humor–laughs are no longer based on situations but humorous conversations. Wise-cracking retorts are funnier than amusing events. In fact, often the events would be minimal.  The sitcom Seinfeld … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Literary devices, Literature, Trends in books, Writing trends | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Breaking the speed limit

A thrilling fast-paced first chapter that pulls the reader into the story does not have the power to create tension for the entire story. A dramatic, edge-of-the-seat beginning might even decrease the tension. After the first thrill is over, the … Continue reading

Posted in Literary devices, Story structure, Style and voice, Trends in books, Writer's resource, Writing trends | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Writing Imagery

What is the difference between describing details and creating imagery? Perhaps I should ask what is the difference in describing details that are exquisite and those full of boring minutia. The concept is difficult to explain because it does depend … Continue reading

Posted in Literary devices, Style and voice, Writer's resource | Leave a comment

Nothing New under the Sun

There have been authors for many millennia and the tools that they use have changed—from painting on stones, to drawing on animal skin, to writing with ink on paper, to using block prints and printing presses and we have electronic … Continue reading

Posted in Creativity, Literary devices, Literature, Story structure, Style and voice, Teaching writing skills, Trends in books, Writer's resource | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

What limits should side characters have?

Most people are at least vaguely familiar with Anna Karenina if they know anything about Russian literature. Perhaps they have seen one of the movies made from this famous novel. I even discussed this book with a student who had … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Literary devices, Literature, Story structure, Teaching writing skills, Writer's resource | Leave a comment

Obnoxious characters

Creating villains is much like creating protagonists. They are people with depth and a history. A villain follows discernible motives just like the hero does. Only at some point in their life, villains take an ethical shortcut to get ahead. … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Group psychology, Literary devices, Literature, Mental health, Trends in books | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Does being well-read help you write?

Despite the flood of self-published books, there are still agents searching the field of writers attempting to discover the next best-selling author. I read a long list of short blurbs written by these agents describing what they required of those … Continue reading

Posted in Education trends, Literary devices, Story structure, Trends in books | Tagged , | Leave a comment

In praise of the passive hero

Don’t create a main character who just is passive, watching the other characters without taking charge or getting things done. Also, don’t read books by two of the most famous American authors Herman Melville and F. Scott Fitzgerald because they … Continue reading

Posted in Characters, Literary devices, Writer's resource | Leave a comment

The key to polite introductions

The first chapter described a woman, now alone, returning to a memory-loaded place. As I read I could easily absorb the environment and still have the mental capacity to consider her conflicted feelings. Would her journey bring healing or more … Continue reading

Posted in Literary devices, Writer's resource | Leave a comment