Are you looking to improve your writing skills? Knowing common literary devices can help you become a better writer. Whether you are writing for school, pleasure, or business, understanding the different literary devices can help you craft a more effective and powerful piece of writing.
In this blog, we will discuss some of the most common literary devices to know, and how they can be used to engage your readers. From alliteration to metaphor, we will explore the various ways these devices can be used to create an impactful story.
Simile and metaphor
Literary devices are an important element in any piece of writing, and simile and metaphor are two of the most common and useful such devices. Simile is a comparison of two different objects, usually by employing the words “like” or “as”.
It is a way to enhance the description of a subject and to express one’s thoughts in a more vivid and poetic manner, often adding humour to a piece of writing. For example, Bill Bryson writes in his book, The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid, that his mother “looked like an orange pip: same size, same colour, same basic shape”. Here, a simile is used to compare his mother to an orange pip which helps to make the description of her facial features more vivid.
Metaphor, on the other hand, is a comparison between two different things without employing the words “like” or “as”. It is a comparison of objects, persons, and ideas to express the metaphor in a symbolic form, aimed at evoking certain images or impressions. A famous example of a metaphor from literature is from William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet where Juliet is compared to the sun with the metaphor, “But, soft!
What light through yonder window breaks? It is the east and Juliet is the sun!
”. Here, Juliet is compared to the sun which not only evokes a beautiful image of her, but also adds a sense of timelessness and grandeur to the overall description of her. Overall, simile and metaphor are two very useful and powerful literary devices which allow authors to communnicate more vividly and poetically.
They can be used to convey ideas and emotions, often adding humour and depth to any piece of writing. Knowing how to use them properly can help writers to make their writing more engaging and enjoyable.
Alliteration and assonance
Common literary devices to know, such as alliteration and assonance, are devices commonly found in literature, poetry, and speech. They are used to convey subtle meanings and emphasize certain words and phrases.
Alliteration and assonance, while closely related, should not be confused and each has its own unique purpose and effect in literary works. Alliteration is the repetition of initial consonant sounds in two or more words within a single phrase or sentence. An example of this in literature is, “She sold sea shells by the sea shore.
” This phrase uses alliteration to emphasize the connection between each of these words, creating a memorable phrase and a striking impression on the reader. This type of repetition can add to the flow of the writer’s text or give it a new emphasis and excitement that captivates the readers. Assonance, on the other hand, occurs when the same vowel sound is repeated within a phrase or sentence.
An example of this can be found in the phrase, “Round and round the rugged rock, the ragged rascal ran”. Here, the repeated ‘a’ sound gives the phrase a sort of rhythm that not only catches the attention of the listener or reader, but also adds to the meaning of the phrase.
Assonance can help to create a particular atmosphere for the reader, as the repeated sounds invoke a feeling of comfort or unease. Understanding the importance of alliteration and assonance can help to craft meaningful and captivating pieces of literature.
By using these devices, the writer can add depth and resonance to their work, helping to make certain words more memorable and emotionally engaging. By using these devices to their advantage, the writer is able to make the text more compelling and create unforgettable phrases that stay with the reader long after the work is finished.
Personification and hyperbole
Personification and hyperbole are two of the most common literary devices that students need to know. Personification is when an object or concept is given human characteristics, while hyperbole is a form of exaggeration typically used in literature to evoke strong emotions or add emphasis. Personification is used to bring objects and ideas to life and give them human qualities.
For example, when someone says, “The wind was whistling through the trees,” they are personifying the wind. Personification can be used to describe something without providing exact details and to create a vivid image.
In poetry and creative writing, personification often comes to life through metaphors and similes, like “the sun was shining like a diamond in the sky. ” Hyperbole is a form of figurative that is designed to make an idea more powerful or significant, by exaggerating it.
For example, when someone says, “I’m so hungry, I could eat a horse,” they are not actually planning on eating a horse, but they are emphasising the fact that they are very, very hungry. Hyperbole can be used to express strong emotions such as love (“My love for you is infinite”) or to draw attention to a situation (“That exam was the longest exam in the world!).
Personification and hyperbole are two indispensable literary tools that students should be familiar with. By using personification and hyperbole, writers and speakers can add vividness and colour to their words, as well as express their feelings and draw attention to particular situations.
Irony and paradox
Irony and paradox are two of the most common literary devices used in storytelling. They add inflection, tension, and also humor to stories, making them exciting and dynamic.
These two terms are often used interchangeably but they do have distinct differences. Irony is a tool used to show a contrast between what is being said and what is expected or what is actually happening. There are three types of irony: verbal, situational, and dramatic.
Verbal irony is when someone says the opposite of what they mean. For example, if a student says “Thanks for the A!” to their teacher after receiving a D, that is verbal irony.
Situational irony is when the result of a certain situation is not what was expected. For example, if a fireman shows up to put out a fire and the fire is already out, this is situational irony.
Dramatic irony is when the audience knows something that the characters in the story do not. For example, if the characters are discussing a plan they think will work, but the audience knows it will ultimately end in disaster. Paradox is a literary device used to describe a seemingly contradictory statement that may still be true.
It is often expressed as a metaphor or simile. For example, the famous phrase “diagonally parked in a parallel universe” is a paradox.
It is a statement that makes no sense literally, but is understood to be true due to its metaphorical nature. Both irony and paradox can be effective tools for engaging readers in a story. By understanding the differences between them, authors can take full advantage of these devices to bring even more life and nuance to their works of literature.
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This article provides an overview of common literary devices used in literature. The devices discussed include alliteration, metaphor, simile, hyperbole, irony, personification, and foreshadowing.
These devices are used to create deeper meaning and evoke emotion in readers. By understanding these devices, readers can gain a better appreciation of literature and its effects.
What is an example of a literary device?
An example of a literary device is personification, which is when an inanimate object or abstract concept is given human characteristics.
What is the purpose of using literary devices?
The purpose of using literary devices is to enhance the writing by creating a more vivid and interesting experience for the reader. They can be used to add depth and complexity to the text, as well as to evoke certain emotions or ideas.
What are some common literary devices?
Some common literary devices include metaphor, simile, alliteration, hyperbole, imagery, personification, and foreshadowing.
How can literary devices be used to enhance a story?
Literary devices can be used to enhance a story by adding depth and complexity to the narrative. They can be used to create vivid imagery, emphasize important points, and provide insight into characters and their motivations. Examples of literary devices include metaphors, similes, alliteration, and symbolism.
What is the difference between a literary device and a figure of speech?
A literary device is a technique used to create a certain effect in writing, such as alliteration, metaphor, and personification. A figure of speech is a phrase or sentence that uses words in a non-literal way to create a vivid image or to make a comparison.
How can literary devices be used to create a deeper meaning in a text?
Literary devices can be used to create a deeper meaning in a text by adding layers of meaning, emphasizing certain ideas, and creating a more vivid and engaging experience for the reader. Examples of literary devices include metaphors, similes, personification, alliteration, and imagery. By using these devices, a writer can create a more meaningful and powerful text.