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4 "A"-mazing literary devices that will make your writing stronger

There are more literary devices out there than we can count, let alone memorize. Here are four that should be in your repertoire, though. This fantastique quartet all start with the letter “A”, but each is special in its own way. Take a look, then write on!

 

Allusion

When you allude to something, you compare one thing to something else. If you call a girl who enjoys charity work a reincarnation of Mother Teresa, your readers will understand your meaning. Likewise, if you compare a bully to Draco Malfoy, chances are they’ll know exactly what you mean, as well. This shouldn’t replace explaining what they do, using actions instead of bland descriptions, but it can be another great way to build a strong character or location.

 

Anecdote

Anecdotes are brief stories that are related to the point you’re trying to make. Take the character in the last explanation. You say she’s like Mother Teresa, but then you could tell a story that exemplifies her charitable nature. Perhaps a family member had to have surgery, but they had difficulty finding blood with the right blood type. This experience empowered her to launch a blood drive.

 

Anthropomorphism

Black Beauty and Family Guy use anthropomorphism to make inhuman creatures or objects seem more human. How? They give them human-like characteristics, from actions (walking on hind legs) to emotions (feeling love). You can make a rushing river appear angry or a cloud dance across the sky.

 

Authorial intrusion

Some say that authorial intrusion, or breaking the fourth wall between the action of a story or play or TV show to speak directly to the reader or audience, is a horrific idea. But take a page out of Lemony Snicket’s incredibly successful Series of Unfortunate Events and you’ll see that it can be put to stupendous effect. If you feel the need to break the voice of the story or pause in the narrative, do it. Worst that happens is you take it out later.

published April 10, 2014
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