Category Archives: Literary devices

Exercises and explanations for using common literary devices

The Sports Hero’s Journey

When advised to base stories on the hero’s journey, I realized that the “monomyth model” constructed plots based on a large sampling of Greek mythology. I’ve always had a suspicion that these myths were based on real people. The characters … Continue reading

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Keeping the Unknown a Mystery

I was engrossed in a mystery that grabbed me from the beginning. Set in the mid nineteenth century it commenced with a spooky chase scene in the fog. The shadow-like suspect disappeared around the corner of a stately brownstone. Then, … Continue reading

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Getting the Utopian Novel Right

H.G. Wells kept trying to get the utopian novel right. His novel A Modern Utopia has a fictional framework–the protagonist meets a man from a perfect society on a distant island. The book is really a philosophical essay describing the … Continue reading

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Dystopian Entertainment

The plethora of dystopian novels that involve putting teens into deadly trials has begun to disturb me. Starting with Hunger Games, which was similar to a YA version of the Running Man, the stories read like athletic competitions run amok. … Continue reading

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Fairy Tale or Dystopia?

The desire to be considered superior and above the crowd exists in most people. We try to ignore the fact that the majority of us are commoners. From time immemorial stories arise with the promise of reaching status by marrying … Continue reading

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Uncontrollable Characters

Some authors claim that characters live in their head, sometimes ignore their directives, and even argue with what the author has planned for them. These authors long for characters that seem as real to their audience as they feel to … Continue reading

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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

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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

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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

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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

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