When a writer sits to pen a story, they just don’t write something bland. Instead, they come up with ways to entice and excite the reader to read their stories. They use literary devices. These are narrative techniques that add excitement to the story. They are what encourages the reader to continue gnawing at the plot until the end.
Every writer has a style of writing that identifies with them. This is called the voice of the writer. The voice conveys the author’s attitude, personality, and character. It’s the voice that makes you know the writer on a deeper level. Depending on the type of story they are writing, styles may vary.
In a story or a narrative, there are different styles that one can use to express thought in a language. They include:
A flashback is an interruption in a narrative or a movie scene that shows events that have already occurred, mostly back in time before the story takes place. It is often used to give the reader more background information and details about specific characters and/or events. An example of a drama series the uses flashbacks is Quantico.
A euphemism is when a more mild or indirect expression is used in place of another word or phrase that is considered harsh, blunt, vulgar, embarrassing or unpleasant. An example would be saying a lady is expectant instead of pregnant.
Colloquialism is the use of informal language and slang. It’s often used by authors to portray a sense of realism to their characters and dialogue. Forms of colloquialism include words, phrases, and contractions that aren’t real words such as “gonna” and “ain’t” or recently “wharathose”.
A paradox is a statement that appears absurd or self-contradictory but, upon investigation, might actually be true. For example, in the movie The Croods, Guy tells The Croods that the volcano was the beginning of the end.
Symbolism refers to the use of an object, figure, event, situation, or another idea in a written work to represent something else. It is usually a broader message or deeper meaning that differs from its literal meaning. For example, in everyday life, black is used to symbolize death or evil.
Hyperbole is an exaggerated statement that’s not meant to be taken literally by the reader. It is often used for comedic effect and/or emphasis. For example: Jeez, I have a million things to do today!
Imagery is when an author describes a scene, thing, or idea so that it appeals to our senses. When a writer uses imagery, one can taste, smell, sight, touch, and hear what is being described. This device is often used to help the reader clearly visualize parts of the story by creating a strong mental picture.
Onomatopoeia is a word(s) that represents a sound and resemble or imitates the sound it stands for. It is often used for dramatic, realistic, or poetic effect. For example, kaboom, sizzle, clap, OMG!
An oxymoron is a combination of two words that, together, express a contradictory meaning. This device is often used for emphasis, for humour, to create tension, or to illustrate a paradox. For example, a beautiful monster.
Irony is when a statement is used to express an opposite meaning than the one literally expressed by it. There are three types of irony in literature:
- Verbal irony: When someone says something but means the opposite. For example: Great! It’s raining, just what I needed!
- Situational irony: When something happens that’s the opposite of what was expected or intended to happen. For example, you wake up late and hurry to go to work only to realize it was a holiday.
- Dramatic irony: When the audience is aware of the true intentions or outcomes, while the characters are not. For example, in the movie series Lucifer, the audience knows he is the devil but the characters don’t.
Another type of irony; remember the series Second Chance? It is so ironical that it wasn’t given a second chance at season two. (Still mad at that by the way) What type of irony is this?
Juxtaposition is the comparing and contrasting of two or more different (usually opposite) ideas, characters, objects, etc. This literary device is often used to help create a clearer picture of the characteristics of one object or idea by comparing it with those of another. For example, Light and Darkness.
A cliff hanger is where a narrative end unresolved to create suspense for a future resolution. An example is the movie Stonehearst Asylum.
Multi-perspectivity is a narrative that is told from multiple viewpoints with characters evoking various emotions and views that might not be felt by the other characters of the story. It is usually used if the story is written in the first person.
Use of metaphors is evoking imagination by using figurative language. For example, he broke my heart. Your heart is not literary broken, you just feel sad.
Satire is the use of humor, irony or exaggeration to criticize. For example, in his song Gangnam Style, Psy pokes fun at Seoul’s wealthiest district, Gangnam. Locally, Kajairo and Eric Omondi are known for their satirical renditions of songs.
Poetic Justice is where virtue ultimately rewarded, or vice punished, by an ironic twist of fate related to the character’s own conduct. For example, in Cinderella, her step mother and step sister watch as she becomes queen after they treated her like a servant.
There are many other literary devices one can use to spice up their work. Which ones do you use? Hit us up in the comments section.